Carmen at Gosford

It’s been a long time since we watched an opera. A good friend suggested we join up and see Carmen. Of course Carmen was the one we used to tap our feet with many years ago. I could never get enough of ‘Oh Toreador’ which is one of its main operatic attractions. Off we went a couple of days ago in our Peugeot. The car our daughter returned when her stolen car was finally able to get re-registered in her own name again. There is an opera waiting to be written just about that saga alone.

The last time we watched a real-life opera was Wagner’s ‘The dance of the Valkyries’ whose whole opera, the ambitious Ring Cycle takes a complete week-end to watch. I think that takes a lot of operatic keenness which I am still working towards. Some people find Wagner a bit moody and heavy but we loved the dance of the Valkyries. Perhaps sunny Australia isn’t the place for moodiness in music. I am sure Bizet’s Carmen would fall on better and more eager ears.

The Carmen production was held at a small 400 seat theatre in Gosford’s Laycock theatre.  Gosford used to be a small sleepy village in the fifties when I used to drive my parents there in my first car. This first car was a light blue Ford V8. A single spinner. It had brown leather seats. The front seat had a build-in ashtray and held three adults. People would buy a block of land around Gosford and work towards building a nice week-end retreat. Retirees would flock from Sydney to Gosford. It had a milk bar and its own railway station. On a quiet day you could hear sheep bleat.

Gosford isn’t a sleepy village anymore. It is huge. There are more traffic round-a-bouts than people or New York City.  The theatre itself is surrounded by so much traffic chaos we felt like giving up. Helvi even suggested we might have to go home. No bleating sheep anymore in Gosford. It wasn’t just the traffic and round-a-bouts. The visual assault with so much signage, a blur of gaping car sales yards. Big McDonalds. How can people even think of eating ?  It was next to a white severe looking building which had ‘Endoscopy’ written on it. Do people have a Big Mack and then go for a colonoscopy next door? What an amazing world we live in!

The theatre remained a distant prospect. We could see it as we drove around and around. Screaming tyres. Huge exhausts belching out smoke from road trains gone berserk. My hand gripping the steering wheel of the Peugeot as if  at any moment I would be dragged to the hangman’s scaffolding. I needed a good Carmen. We finally hurled ourselves from the round-about and parked next to the Endoscopy building. It felt safe.

The theatre itself an oasis of calm and serenity. Peaceful retirees. Lots of grey hair and muffled sounds. It was packed and the performance ready to start. An electronic buzzing indicating we should take our pre-booked seats. The theatre was fully booked. Amazing when you think this was Wednesday at 11 am. The Carmen production was just brilliant. A huge cast with the orchestra well hidden below the stage. Rousing responses from the audience after each song or performance. We enjoyed it thoroughly and it was well worth the drive and manic traffic and chaos. Isn’t it wonderful that despite the spiritual barrenness of the surroundings with all that blatant exposure of crass commercialism one also get those jewels of art and creativity?

The world isn’t as bad as we might sometimes believe.

Thank you Bizet.

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16 Responses to “Carmen at Gosford”

  1. Therese Trouserzoff Says:

    Another great omnibus piece, Gez.

    Knock back a Big Mac and then watch its progress on a colonoscope. Now there’s a rather too graphic word picture !

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thanks Trouserzoff,

      A great opera with a most appreciative audience. Being a Wednesday, I did not expect it to be booked out. It’s mind boggling how the cast got it all together. Coming out of the theatre you could tell it had given a new life to many.

      There were quite a few mobility walkers about. Many were seen to fiddle with hearing aids. There is some kind of ‘loop’ facility in the theatre which is supposed to aid those with hearing impairments.

      The endoscopy place had at least ample parking.


  2. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Sounds like a good time. Don’t wait too long for a repeat opera performance whatever it may be. A little culture isn’t bad now and then.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      We have the booklet of all sorts of theatrical events next on the bed-side table. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is next in September. Can’t wait to see the Amazonian Queen and Athenian King battling it out in their pre-nuptials.

      There is more to culture than just butter-milk.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. auntyuta Says:

    Great time for you and Helvi. Wonderful! I just enjoyed a little bit of music on youtube.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. berlioz1935 Says:

    Carmen is a delight to watch and hear. It is the most watched opera. It is the introduction to classical music for many. They performed it last month on Sydney Harbour. It must have been magical.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      It was so welcome after the endless going around the round-a-bout, Berlioz.
      This theatre is fantastic but somewhat isolated by so many busy roads. One almost wished for a chance to abseil into the theatre from a helicopter.
      There is another chapter of love and justice coming up in The Merchant of Venice. All this in Gosford.

      Far out!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. GP Cox Says:

    My father taught me music appreciation as a kid, and Carmen was one of my favorites.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. shoreacres Says:

    A little good music always is worthwhile, and good live music is worth the trouble to get there. I do wish that the theater district in Houston wasn’t an hour away, and that the traffic weren’t so ghastly, and parking impossible. But Sunday matinees are nice, and they have the added benefit of not making a midnight drive home with the clubbers and bar-hoppers necessary.

    It was “The Marriage of Figaro” that introduced me to opera. “Carmen” came later. In fact, this version of “Figaro,” with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, is one of my favorites.

    I’m glad to have been reminded of her in this round-about way. I’ve had a quite different video of her tucked away in my files for “someday” use. That day may have arrived. 🙂

    Otherwise? Roundabouts are a tool of the devil. The first time I came across one, it was in the very middle of Kansas. You couldn’t see anything but prairie, stretching to the horizon in all four directions. I decided it must have been a test roundabout, plunked out there to see how it would function. With no traffic to speak of, it seemed to be functioning rather well.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. gerard oosterman Says:

    The theatre in Gosford is a good two and half hour away, about 200klm.

    We stayed with a good friend in Gosford overnight. The drive from Gosford to the theatre wasn’t much in distance but the traffic and those endless round-a-bouts made me dizzy. I am so afraid ending up with nightmares doing round-a-bouts my bed in the middle of the night.

    At one stage Helvi wanted to go home but persistence finally overcame all.

    Paris is the world’s capital of all round-a-bouts. They often have bronze statues of past Generals perched on horses in the middle of them. Sometimes the General wields a sharp sword as well. A bad omen, I reckon!
    Kiri te Kanawa is one of the best.


  8. petspeopleandlife Says:

    You and Helvi are sophisticates and quite cultured to enjoy the opera. The drive sounds like a true nightmare.

    I kind of like roundabouts..We have one here where I live and you just have to be careful and avoid hitting anyone.;-)

    Now about opera. I adore most all music but for some reason I can not stand opera. The voices are fantastic but singing with drama does not appeal to me. So I suppose I am not cultured at all. I don’t even like theater. It is all such overdone acting and goes against my grain.


  9. gerard oosterman Says:

    I am one with you, petspeopleandlife,

    I always though opera was a bit over the top as well. With all that swooning and lovelorn ladies clutching their breasts while singing about missing their lovers who seem to go around knifing opponents.

    I have this unnerving feeling of ‘ get on with it’ or worse, ‘get over it.’

    Romantic Love is so overrated, ivonne. Who ends up washing the socks?

    Why does it take a lifetime to realise this?

    This is why I loved Carmen because of the music and drama being so opposite of reality. It is an escape and who doesn’t want to escape?


  10. Dorothy Brett Says:

    I once saw La Boheme, just lovely, but the best production was by the WA ballet at His Majesty’s theatre in Perth. The opera was more moving as a ballet than as it was original,y. It has never come to the East coast but if it did I would want to see it again.
    So glad you and Helvi enjoyed it so much, shame about the traffic and roundabouts, but I think the population of this stream has increased dramatically over the last few years.


  11. Dorothy Brett Says:

    Should read. “Area” not “stream “.


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