Went to this ENO production tonight of Britten's little known piece (not quite an opera, not a musical - described as an operetta). It was fantastic fun and a real treat to be in the balcony with the ENO chorus singing right behind us. I don't think I've ever been at Wilton's for something with such a large cast.
As an added bonus bowls of Percy Pigs are handed round the audience during the Christmas feast. And for those who have seen Simon Russell Beale in the Lehman Trilogy he is the (pre-recorded) voice of Paul Bunyan in this with pretty much the same accent.
Tomorrow night is the final night of the production and while they are saying sold out they were also saying that about tonight, but there were some empty seats in the auditorium - well worth a punt.
Sorry you missed it Someone in a tree but holidays should always take precedence. Hopefully, given the reception, they will revive it. Incidentally I tweeted about it being like the Muppets Most Wanted film (the lumberjacks provide the same sort of humour as the gulag chain gang in the film). The conductor replied saying that he had said in rehearsals that it had a muppet feel to it.
Frank Skinner was in the audience and - in important news - the balcony at Wilton's now sports individual padded cinema style seats rather than the bare benches that were there last time I sat in the balcony. I'm hoping that some of my money from being a friend of the music hall went towards such a worthy enterprise!
I'm pleased you enjoyed it. I won't get to see it because of other commitments but I've seen two other different productions - one excellent one, done by the Royal Opera almost twenty years ago at Sadlers Wells (this was when they had to decamp for redevelopment.) It's a very likeable piece; full of charm and innocence, quite folksy and unlike anything else by Britten. It's a shame he didn't try such an 'experiment' again.
This was indeed unlike anything by Britten I've ever seen. Can't help feeling Auden bossed this, I struggle to think of Britten as a humourist but there are many funny moments here driven by Auden's wordplay in the libretto.
Having said that it is also musically very different to any Britten I know, there are country/folk strands to this and even on a couple of occasions music approaching blues. Had I not known this was Britten I might have wondered whether I wasn't listening to something by Bernstein or Gershwin!
Not entirely sure about Bunyan not appearing on stage. I understand why Auden did it but an unseen protagonist? Mmm... jury's out. Simon Russell Beale sounds like the voice of God, which is I expect the required effect.
Excellent production, wonderfully staged; the ENO team not cowed at all by the very different nature of Wilton's Music Hall to the Coliseum. In fact the reduced stage size works positively, with the scenes where the chorus mills around the sides of the auditorium having a "Sensurround" effect.
Big shout for Rupert at the box office who sorted out a problem with the tickets which had me worried I was going to miss this. Thanks!