Sunday, 10 November 2013

The Magic of Seacross Lonning

WHEN you die, it is said you travel through a tunnel on your way to heaven. I'm fully expecting this tunnel to be Seacross Lonning at Embleton in Cumbria. The hazel and elm form a tunnel-effect for much of this lonning which creates a wonderfully peaceful and other-worldy effect. On our visit today (November 10th 2013) it was extremely wet underfoot; it's fair to say a river now runs through it! But for those of us with proper boots it is still passable and the light from the late afternoon sun reflects on the water to create a sublime green and yellow luminescence. Hopefully the pictures on this page will do some justice to the lonning. I had hoped to give a guided walk along the lonning to those involved in the Lonnings Art Project at Florence Mine, Egremont (see Florence Mine website) but the new river makes that impossible. Something for the new year. In the meantime, enjoy the photos!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Raise your glass to this pub opera

YOU rarely get the chance to see opera in West Cumbria.
And while the knee-jerk reaction of most people is ‘I don’t like opera’, most admit that’s partly because they’ve never seen it!
The revelation this month that the Arts Council spends £69 per head on its London friends and only £4.58 on Cumbrians probably means the chance of seeing opera or any quality arts this far north is remote.
So hats off to Whitehaven’s Rosehill Theatre whose Rosehill on the Road programme brought the Olivier Award winning opera La Boheme to Workington’s Carnegie Theatre.
This production by Opera Up Close originated from a determination to make opera accessible with a capital ‘A’ – by performing it in a pub and in English. It proved such a sensation that it progressed to bigger venues. That’s probably a pity but the performers retained the pub ethos by performing some of the show among the Carnegie audience.
They also modernised Puccini’s 19th century opera with references to Jamie Oliver and Primark! For much of the opera there were plenty of laughs but there’s no escaping this – like most operas – ends badly with Mimi dying from consumption. However, that means some indulgent pathos with delights such as Your Tiny Hand Is Frozen.
To hear such fantastic singing – the only accompaniment was a piano – was a real treat and no doubt left even first-time opera visitors wanting more. Will we see it up north? The odds are probably against it given the Arts Council’s London bias but check out the Rosehill programme for forthcoming visits to the area by Richard Suart, Victoria Simmonds and the Elias String Quartet.
La Boeheme was staged in association with the Carnegie 
Theatre. It was sponsored by Allerdale Borough Council as part of its cultural programme accompanying the Rugby League World Cup.