Monthly Archives: September 2014

Etiquette at the opera

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There is hardly anything more special than dressing up for a night out at the opera. With such a great variety of shows to see and music to sample, you will be in for a night of guaranteed entertainment.

Even tedious or monotonous shows will give you plenty to talk about – particularly if you are on a date with your loved one.

However, there are certain unwritten rules, that when observed correctly, can make your evening seem so much more sublime.

If you have never been to the opera before, or it is the first time you will visit during a first date, then follow our top tips below for a truly magical evening.

Dress code

This is something of a misconception when it comes to opera performances. It is not true that you have to dress like a movie star, or as if you are going to a job interview, you can keep it informal and relaxed.

Unless a specific dress code is given, then you can simply wear what you normally would if you were going to a theatre.

Seating

The most expensive seating is not necessarily the best. It will usually be the closest, but it will not always be better in terms of sound.

If you want to find out where the really good seats are – then you will almost certainly want to purchase tickets at the box office and ask the people working there where they would recommend. They can usually give you a few good pointers as to where the best seats are.

Interaction

Operas tend to be lively places where the crowds will either erupt into spontaneous clapping, sing along to a chorus, or praise the performers.

You might even be asked to erupt in song or be encouraged to participate in a good, old dance-along.

It is always better to get into the spirit of the evening where appropriate, particularly if you are attending with a date. It will make the evening much more memorable and fun!

Mobile phones

This will be a fairly obvious point for many, as noisy phones are hardly welcomed in any performance-related environment, regardless of whether you are going to a cinema, play or the theatre.

But during an opera, on a date with your partner, a noisy mobile is a special kind of evil and is likely to earn you a fair few frowns and glassy stares should it start ringing.

Therefore, do yourself (and everyone else) a favour, and switch it off or keep it on silent.

Food

This varies from venue to venue, but most theatres do not allow you to bring in food, although drinks brought from the venue are allowed. Hot or smelly food is a definite no-no and should be avoided.

Research

If you really want to maximise your enjoyment of the opera and impress your date with your cultural, in-depth knowledge about the play in question, why not cheat a little bit, and visit Dr Google to find out a little more about the performance.

You would be surprised by how much more you appreciate the play once you know a few of its secrets!

Punctuality

There is nothing more awkward then arriving into the venue when the show has already started. It will usually involve having to squeeze past rows of people who have already sat down and may even disrupt the flow of the play itself.

It is never a good idea to arrive late when you are on a date anyway – so do yourself a favour and get there at least ten minutes before it starts.

There is hardly anything more special than dressing up for a night out at the opera. With such a great variety of shows to see and music to sample, you will be in for a night of guaranteed entertainment. Even

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Profile: The life and times of Richard Wagner

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Richard Wagner is best known for writing the world's longest opera, the Ring Cycle, which lasted over 18 hours. Most of all, he is recognised for the passion that he injected into his music. 

While a lot of controversy surrounded Wagner as a person – most notably his anti-Semitism and views on other races – the influence of his music is undeniable.

His operas were written in the style of the romantic era, with his works being compared to that of Carl Maria von Weber and Giacomo Meyerbeer.

Wagner was also revered for composing operas that were poetic, visual and musical. He also wrote dramatic arts, with music subsidiary to drama.

Like most other great composers, his interest in music was apparent from an early age. In his youth, he studied harmony with a local musician, and in 1831 he studied music at Leipzig University. 

He also studied briefly with the Kantor of the Thomaskirche, Christian Theodor Weinlig. During his early years, he was influenced greatly by his stepfather, Ludwig. 

He also met Weber in his youth, who greatly helped to inspire his own work. Legendary composers such as Beethoven were another source of inspiration for the young Wagner and this became evident in many of his early compositions.

At the relatively tender age of 15, Wagner decided to become a composer. Between 1830 and 1831, he transcribed Beethoven's 9th Symphony for the piano. 

Not too long after that, he wrote keyboard and orchestral works in a style influenced by the great composer.

He then became a musical director in a company in Magdeburg in 1894. Soon after, he met his future wife, the actress Minna Planer.

However, in the years following he began to build up debts and his career didn't really take off until he moved to Paris.

His opera Rienzi was also accepted by the Dresden Opera. It proved to be a big success.

After becoming established in the opera scene, Wagner's style of music took on a life of its own.

His compositions are often recognised for their complex textures, rich harmonies and orchestration, and the elaborate use of leitmotifs — musical phrases associated with individual characters, places, ideas or plot elements. 

He very quickly rose through the ranks of fame to become one of the most influential artists in the classical music genre.

Some researchers trace the beginning of modern classical music to the first notes of Tristan und Isolde, which include the so-called Tristan chord, coined by the legendary music icon.

During his latter years, Wagner also had his own opera house built, the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, which encapsulated many novel design features.

It was here that he went on to create such classics such as the Ring Cycle and Tristan und Isolde, which still hold sway over many musical fans today.

He was also famous for reintroducing some traditional forms into his last few stage works, including pieces such as Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (The Mastersingers of Nuremberg).

Other notable works include Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, (The Twilight of the Gods), Die Feen (The Fairies) and Das Liebesverbot (Love's Interdict), among others.

Wagner also made a major contribution to the principles and practice of conducting. His essay "About Conducting" claimed that it could be used as a way of re-interpreting work, rather than simply as a mechanism for achieving orchestral unison. 

In 1883, Wagner died of a heart attack in Venice. A private burial was held in the grounds of Wahnfrie in the city of Bayreuth.

Richard Wagner is best known for writing the world's longest opera, the Ring Cycle, which lasted over 18 hours. Most of all, he is recognised for the passion that he injected into his music.  While a lot of controversy surrounded

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Double dating: Should you or shouldn’t you?

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Double dating is growing increasingly popular among many couples today. In some cases, you even get double – or group marriages, with couples holding wedding ceremonies at the same time.

It is easy to see why they would appeal to some people. After all, if you are a little bit nervous about dating, or meeting someone for the first time, bringing along a friend can make things a little bit easier.

If nothing else, it certainly boosts the banter that evening! Some people believe that it can help to reignite the passion in a relationship, by making you feel more connected to your own partner.

In fact, there are many reasons why people choose to go on a double date, and when handled in the right way, it can be a fun and fulfilling experience.

However, as with a traditional date, if you go about it the wrong way then it can lead to disaster.

In fact, that disaster can be magnified because there is more than just one other person involved.

So therefore, there are a number of things that you would do well to consider before pairing up.

The first and most obvious thing is ensuring that you and your partner are both comfortable with the arrangement.

It is important to ensure that nobody feels pressured, and that equally, you are both comfortable in the company of the other couple and vice-versa.

If either party is not 100 per cent about doubling up, it could be a recipe for disaster!

You certainly don't want any red faces, arguments or discomfort on the day!

Having said that, you should also ensure that both couples are more or less at the same stage of their relationship.

Why is this important? For the simple reason, that if you are pairing up with a couple who are much more serious and committed than you, then it can be tempting to compare yourself to them a little more harshly than you would otherwise.
Similarly, if they have just got together and you have been with your partner for a long time, you might end up in a situation where you over analyse your relationship. If they are still in the "honeymoon period" of the early stages of their relationship, and you and your partner have been married for ten years, for example.

Secondly, you should also be sure to pick a venue that you can all agree on. Ideally, it would be one where you can all talk and socialise.

Going to see an opera or a classical musical concert may seem like a good idea, but try and avoid a situation where the ladies are sitting together talking away, and the guys are left to twiddle their thumbs.

Another golden rule of double dating is making sure you all arrive on time. Nothing could be more awkward than when the other persons date turns up bright and early to greet them with a bunch of flowers and chocolates, and you are left waiting for 20 minutes, wondering when your partner will turn up.

Punctuality is incredibly important here, otherwise it could lead to more than a little awkwardness or red faces.

Tardiness is a big no-no! 

And do you want to know what the unspoken rule of double dating is? Liking everybody involved.

Let's face it, if you cannot stand your best friend's partner, or they cannot stand yours, or any such combination, then it is a sure-fire route to catastrophe.

Would you ever date someone that you knew you didn't like? Ever tried sitting in a room with a person you thought was totally obnoxious?

If none of that sounds appealing to you, then you probably shouldn't double-date them either, if you get my meaning.

Be sure that everyone is involved in the planning and arrangement of the date. Communication is key here. By giving all parties an equal say, it makes it much more likely that everyone will be happy, and enjoy the evening.

This might sound obvious, but avoid any temptation to see the double-date as some sort of competition. You would be surprised by how many people do this.

If the night ends up being a race to prove who the "better" couple is, then it can only end in tears.

Therefore, resist any urge to compare yourself to the other couple and see it for what it is: a chance to have a fun, relaxing evening, in the presence of mutual friends.

Knowing when to call it a night is also important. Trying to drag the night on when it has come to its natural conclusion can only serve to make the evening less enjoyable for all involved.

By following all the above hints and tips, you can ensure that everyone involved has a fun time and literally double the enjoyment of the evening.

Double dating is growing increasingly popular among many couples today. In some cases, you even get double – or group marriages, with couples holding wedding ceremonies at the same time. It is easy to see why they would appeal to

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Finding the perfect woman after 50

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Finding the perfect woman when you are over the age of 50 can sometimes come as a bit of a challenge.

After all, by that time, many people will invariably have settled down with families or are happily married.

However, there are still a growing number of people in their 50s who are also divorced, or are simply looking for a new romance.

The key to finding a partner and forging a successful relationship is to surround yourself with like-minded people.

Whether you share a passion for ballroom dancing or classical music – you really want to ensure that whoever you choose to start a relationship with has similar interests.

So how do you find the perfect lady after 50?

Join clubs

Joining clubs and getting involved in activities outside of work will significantly increase your chances of finding your ideal mate.

It is easy to get stuck into the same old routine and patterns when you are over 50, and visit the places that you always have.

However, if you want to meet more people, then you should always endeavour to try new things and join associations and societies, or dating websites that are more in line with your interests.

Not only does this increase your chances of meeting your ideal partner, it also makes you a more attractive prospect to a potential date.

Even a slight change of routine such as going to a café for a coffee or visiting the library at times you would not usually, can do wonders for your social life.

Dress to kill

When you are presenting yourself to the world, you should always look your best – especially when you are on a date.

This may seem obvious, however you would be surprised at the number of people who turn up to a first date dressed in very casual or even scruffy looking clothing.

A date is a special occasion – and if you really want to impress the lady in question, then a suit and tie or smart looking shirt and trousers, will go a long way.

Commit

Set aside some time each day looking for potential dates – whether over the internet or in your day-to-day interactions.

Try and commit at least 20 minutes or so a day – it will pay dividends in the long-run.

Don't let the past hold you back

If like most people you have been hurt in previous relationships, the key thing is not to let that hold you back or even worse – bring those feelings of distrust and resentment to your future relationships.

A new relationship is just that – a new leaf in the book and a chance to start afresh. If you are still finding it difficult to let go of the past, then you should definitely try and work through that before starting up another relationship.

Connect

The key to finding – and keeping – the perfect partner is in being able to connect with the opposite sex on many levels.

So how do you do this? The foundations of any true, long lasting connection is an established friendship.

When you do find a lady you like, ideally you want to be approaching each other without too many expectations or pressure on either side, which means you can then leave the door open for it to evolve into something more significant.

If you connect on a soulful level before rushing into any physical intimacy or romance, you are far more likely to forge a fulfilling and harmonious partnership.

Finding the perfect woman when you are over the age of 50 can sometimes come as a bit of a challenge. After all, by that time, many people will invariably have settled down with families or are happily married. However,

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Top relationship issues and how to solve them.

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Every couple has their ups and downs – it's a natural part of life. However, there are some challenges that, if not resolved at an early stage, can take their toll on a relationship.

Lack of communication, jealousy, money problems, trust issues – all of these have a part to play when it comes to the breakdown of a couple.

However, if you recognise these issues when – or better still – before they occur, you will both be in a much better position to work through them and move on.

It is very rare to not have any problems with your partner – after all, when it comes to making a commitment to someone or living with another person, it takes time to get used to their way of doing things.

It can also be difficult to understand what someone else is thinking or why they act the way they do. 

Therefore, running into a few problems every now and again is not such a big deal – as long as you are able to get past them.

People can do this in a number of different ways. Some couples overcome issues by going to relationship counselling, while others do it by reading self-help books or going to seminars.

But the key to solving any problem is acknowledging that it exists; only then can you be in a position to solve it.

It is also essential to clearly be able to recognise the cause of the problem and how it was able to escalate.

Perhaps then you may be able to prevent future issues from occurring in the same way.

So what are the common problems experienced by couples and how can it be resolved?

Lack of communication

Almost all relationship problems stem from failing to communicate with each other effectively.

Sometimes it comes down to a simple lack of time. If you don't make time to be around each other and talk on a one-to-one basis, this can lead to a build-up of frustration and resentment.

Your partner may feel that their views are not being heard – which usually causes them to make their own rash decisions.

Or perhaps it is you who feels your partner does not listen to you or take your issues seriously.

Therefore, on a fairly regular basis, it is important to set aside some time together. Allowing each other to express themselves without interrupting is also essential – otherwise, you will mostly likely get drawn into a heated argument without understanding where the other person is coming from.

Body language can also play a major role when it comes to communication. If you are looking at your watch, rolling your eyes or are clearly distracted when the other person is talking, then it is only going to fuel further resentment.

Therefore, it is important to be attentive, nod, and show that you are listening.

Trust

Lack of trust is where all jealousy and dysfunction stems from in a relationship. Often it comes about as a from being hurt in a previous relationship, or even from early childhood.

The key is to recognise that and deal with those issues separately. You may have had a negative experience in a past relationship, but if you take that baggage to the new one, then it is likely to create problems there as well.

Therapy may be one solution to solving issues of jealousy, possessiveness, and childhood trauma.

The key thing here is: respect. If you do not treat each other with dignity or respect, then it will only exacerbate existing problems.

Sex

This can be a difficult topic for most people – particularly if there are problems in this area. Sometimes, even if your actual relationship to each other is very strong, you can still be a mismatch for each other sexually.

However, having a healthy sex life is an important component of most romantic relationships. Therefore, if there are issues with either partner – the key is to be open with each other and discuss any issues that you have.

This alone will help to resolve many of the problems around sex.

At times, it may be necessary to go to therapy, and at this point, many couples choose to go to a qualified sex therapist or relationship counsellor to get some external help.

For others, it is just a question of learning more about each other's desires and getting comfortable around one another.

Money

Money problems are the number one cause of problems among many couples. Therefore, it is a topic that warrants some serious discussion between you and your loved one in order to prevent the situation from spiralling out of control.

First, it will be necessary to have a full and frank discussion about the state of your finances. It should be at a time when you are both able to sit down, with no other immediate obligations that get in the way. 

Never be tempted to hide debt issues or income from your partner – it will only create further problems later on.

You should both sit down and look at the state of your finances and construct a joint budget, which includes any savings you may have.

It is at this point that any short and long-term goals must be accounted for.

Ultimately, the key to resolving any relationship issue is to have a full and open discussion about the problems you are experiencing and work out a way to solve those issues together.

Every couple has their ups and downs – it's a natural part of life. However, there are some challenges that, if not resolved at an early stage, can take their toll on a relationship. Lack of communication, jealousy, money problems,

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Mid Wales Opera set to tour the country with Carmen

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Mid Wales Opera has collaborated with one of Britain's leading directors and comedian Rory Bremner as part of its 25th birthday celebrations. 

It launched a new production of Bizet's Carmen, directed by Sir Jonathan Miller and translated by Bremner. It will also be conducted by Nicholas Cleobury, artistic director of Mid Wales Opera.

Commenting on the arrangement, Nicholas Cleobury said: "It's a great accolade to be working with such a great director.

"He's bringing real kudos to what we're doing at Mid Wales Opera."

The opera company is currently touring the UK until November 13th, and launched an opening gala performance last week. 

The opera depicts the story of the main character, Carmen, who seduces the naive Don José and tells the story of their passionate and tumultuous relationship.

The intense and powerful production then starts to build up to a dramatic finale when Don José kills Carmen in a fit of rage.

Some of the songs that will be performed in the production includes the Habanera and the Toreador Song – two of the best known of all operatic arias.

World renowned opera and music theatre composer Stephen McNeff will be orchestrating the performance, which is set to be a big hit among consumers.

Speaking just before the first performance last Wednesday, Rory Bremner, said: "It’s fun to lock yourself away with a musical score, a dictionary and thesaurus and get cracking. It’s like doing crosswords or sudoku for me, and you’ve got to solve it in three directions.

“You have to get the words right, you have to make them fit and hopefully you can make them come alive and be funny.”

Mid Wales Opera has collaborated with one of Britain's leading directors and comedian Rory Bremner as part of its 25th birthday celebrations.  It launched a new production of Bizet's Carmen, directed by Sir Jonathan Miller and translated by Bremner. It

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International singers gather in Essex for inaugural opera concert

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Opera singers from across the world are set to gather in Uttlesford for this year's opera concert in Saffron Hall.

Richard Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg will be performed in the Essex venue on September 14th and will showcase talent from 17 countries.

Professor Michael Thorne will conduct the performance and has previously conducted Wagner operas in Edinburgh.

It is hoped that the inaugural concert will be the first of many similar events to showcase foreign talent on a regular basis.
In an interview with the Reporter, Mr Thorne said the performance will be a "historic" one. He added: "It will be fantastic if the audience who come to this are able to say ‘we were at the first opera at Saffron Hall’ when it has been going for ten, 15 or 20 years. That is what we hope.

“The Mount Everest of doing Wagner is a series of four operas called The Ring Cycle and it would be great if we could get the support to put one of each of these on over the next four years.”

The debut performance was organised by the new Saffron Opera Group.

Soloists at the concert will be supported by the St Albans Symphony Orchestra while 50 signers from choral societies across the UK will be directed by Saffron Walden’s Janet Wheeler.
The opera will last four-and-a-half hours and is set to begin at 2pm on the day. In the Reporter interview, Mr Thorne, added: “It’s a truly exceptional cast when you look at the names of those who will be performing.

“It will be minute after minute, hour after hour of the most beautiful and glorious music, and on top of that this rip roaring comedy ensues.”

Opera singers from across the world are set to gather in Uttlesford for this year's opera concert in Saffron Hall. Richard Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg will be performed in the Essex venue on September 14th and will showcase talent

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Truro becomes latest choir to admit female choirs

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Truro Cathedral has recently announced that female choristers are to be admitted into its choirs, from next September.

This autumn, the search to recruit 20 girl choristers between the ages of 13-18 will begin. Successful applicants will be educated at Truro School, and will have 25 per cent of their fees paid by scholarships.  

Those who are invited to be part of the scheme will sing two to three services a week with the men, including alternate Sundays.  

Truro has traditionally used all-male choirs, and this new announcement marks a greater drive towards equal opportunities.

Christopher Gray, director of music, at Truro said that although there was a desire to admit girls into the choir previously, the economic climate was not right.

In an interview published with Choir & Organ magazine, Mr Gray added: "We said that if we were going to admit girls, true equality would come by offering them the same support package as the boys. In terms of their commitment, we looked at what was right for us here in Cornwall and concluded that girls would benefit most from a scholarship when they were slightly older. For boys that opportunity comes earlier because of when their voices start to break."

Truro is one of a number of cathedrals all over the UK to break away from the tradition of all-male choirs.

However, not everyone has been supportive of the move.

According to an interview, published in Classical Music Magazine, Lynda Collins from the Campaign for the Traditional Cathedral Choir, said: "We very much hope that the new girl choristers at Truro will be introduced in a manner which doesn’t damage the cathedral’s outstanding historic traditional all-male choir in any way. 

"Girls ought to be allowed to develop their own tradition rather than simply becoming a mere imitation of the boys."

Truro Cathedral has recently announced that female choristers are to be admitted into its choirs, from next September. This autumn, the search to recruit 20 girl choristers between the ages of 13-18 will begin. Successful applicants will be educated at

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Report calls for more funding into arts and culture

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Classical music and the arts should play a more prominent role in UK life, it has been suggested.

The NLGN (New Local Government Network), produced a report, after it was revealed that local authority funding for arts and culture has fallen by 19 per cent in the last three years.

In its publication entitled 'On with the show: supporting local arts and culture', it warned that local authorities must do more to preserve the arts and culture within their region.

The report explored the role local authorities play in supporting artistic and musical ventures in their areas and found that in many cases, the local authorities fell far short – unless one of the decision makers had a particular interest in those areas.

Economic development of artistic projects in regional areas was also inadequate, according to the NLGN.

The publication put forward a number of suggestions on how local councils can improve their funding of artistic and classical projects.

Commenting on the findings, report author Claire Mansfield said: "Central and local government should consider how the economic potential of the arts and culture can be recognised in the growth deal process. 

"Resources that are devolved to support economic growth should be devolved in such a way as to enable culture to contribute economically alongside other sectors. Local authorities should create a clear vision for the role the arts and culture can play in the economic and social development of their area and embed this within their corporate strategy."

The findings showed that public investment in arts and culture has declined in recent years and the impact is felt in those parts of the arts and cultural sector that rely upon local government support. 

According to the figures, funding for the arts and culture is falling short of what has been invested in previous years.

Classical music and the arts should play a more prominent role in UK life, it has been suggested. The NLGN (New Local Government Network), produced a report, after it was revealed that local authority funding for arts and culture has

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Thousands to gather in Lichfield for classical music concert

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Thousands of people are set to gather for the Lichfield Proms which will take place at Beacon Park this year.

The event will include live classical music and fireworks and is set to launch on September 6th. 

Music from Star Wars and The Planets Suite will be among the acts featured as part of the festival, which is free to attend.

The City of Lichfield Concert Band will be warming up the stage from 6pm, while the British Police Symphony Orchestra (BPSO) will lead the main concert at 7.30pm. Sopranos Claire Prewer, Jane Stevenson and Lynne Lindner are set to join the British Police Symphony Orchestra on stage.

There will also be a number of activities available for children and these will start from 5.30pm on the day.

The family event will then be brought to a close with fireworks, while the well-known melody Land of Hope and Glory will be played.

Commenting on the event, Claire Prewer told the Lichfield Mercury that she is looking forward to the performance.

She added: "We're all really excited about singing at Lichfield Proms. We know thousands of people come each year to enjoy the outdoor concert. It will be great to be a part of this feel-good event."

The outdoor concert is organised by Lichfield District Council and will include a number of local bands and singers, who will perform pieces from legendary artists such as Richard Wagner, Thomas Arne and Edward Elgar to name but a few.

Established in 1998, the concert  has grown from strength to strength and attracts people from all over the country

Thousands of people are set to gather for the Lichfield Proms which will take place at Beacon Park this year. The event will include live classical music and fireworks and is set to launch on September 6th.  Music from Star

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