Octopus's Garden

Issue Ninety-One

10th November 2020

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HELLO, good evening and welcome to Octopus's Garden, the subzeen with its very own Railway Rivals openings. It is a subzeen to Douglas Kent's Eternal Sunshine. It's produced by Peter Sullivan peter@burdonvale.co.uk. It's also available on the web at: http://www.burdonvale.co.uk/octopus/.


We now need just one more name to fill our Railway Rivals waiting list. Could YOU be that name?

Railway Rivals Map "B" (London and Liverpool): John David Galt, Mark Firth, Hank Alme, Bob Blanchett. (One needed)

Map is at http://www.burdonvale.co.uk/octopus/rr-b.pdf

To get on the waiting list, e-mail me, and (if you aren't already) join the Eternal Sunshine mailing list at https://mailchi.mp/45376bbd05df/eternalsunshine

What's Opera, Doc?

You'll be pleased to know, no doubt, that Jack McHugh and myself have been discussing the election back-and-forth on Facebook over the past two weeks to such an extent that, at the moment, I have absolutely nothing further to say on the subject. So you all have something to be grateful to Jack for. (I suspect this may be the first time those words have ever been written in this zine, so there you go.)

The other thing that has been taking up most of my free time over the past few weeks is my role as Treasurer and IT minion to Opera Sunderland, a community opera company local to me. We'd got the funding to have a piece specially written for us, called The Soldier's Return, about the experiences of local veterans returning home from the various wars of the 20th Century.

But the UK-wide lockdown came in just after we'd done the kick-off meeting for this production, So no rehearsals, nor any prospect of doing a live production at our chosen venue in the near future. Instead, over the summer, our people worked really hard on developing an alternative way of doing the production as a film/video.

We rehearsed the chorus together over Zoom, and then got them to record their vocals individually at home to a piano "click track" and e-mail them in. For the main leads, and the 7-person orchestra, they recorded their parts separately in a studio, and we then found a technical wizard who could mix it all together.

For the visuals, we hired a film studio and got the singers to come in one by one and "mime" to their pre-recorded track. It was a fairly sparse set anyway, so social distancing was fairly easy to maintain - which wouldn't have been the case if we'd been doing, say, Aida!

The whole experience was probably more like making a pop video than a conventional opera. No-one involved had ever really done anything like it before. But we are all very proud of the end result - it almost feels like it was meant to be a film all along!

The piece was premiered on Remembrance Sunday, at 11:02 am (i.e. just after the traditional Two Minutes Silence) and will be available on our website until the end of November if you want to take a look:


That was Octopus's Garden #91, Startling Press production number 387.

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