Meet the naked orchestra … and vote for the next
June 16, 2011 by Norman Lebrecht
Rumours have been flying all week around Valladolid that the radical director Calixto Bieito was going to require the orchestra to play naked through Carmen. I have a friend or two in that orchestra and was worried they might catch a chill.
Fortunately, Calixto has other things on his mind – he needs two understudies on hand for Magdalena Kozena in case her voice gets a recurrence of the Aldeburgh curse – and the idea has been quietly forgotten.
Not that it would have been hugely original. Here is a short history of the naked orchestra.
In April 2008, members of the Orchestra of the Swan from Stratford-upon-Avon stripped off on national television in protest against losing their Arts Council grant. Pictured below are artsitic director David Curtis with percussionist Tim Farmer, french horn player Kai Hoffman, oboist Louise Braithwaite and violist Vanessa Murby (the source is MusoLife).
Later that year the Royal Opera House, more decorously as you’d expect, had members of its orchestra and cast pose unclothed for a chairty calendar that earned the world of opera unlimited tabloid space (this, from the Daily Mail).
So nudity in orchestras and opera companies is nothing new under the sun. This is a Japanese rehearsal
… and you will find plenty more to amuse you on google. The thing is, though, nobody has yet tried it on with a major, world-class orchestra.
I mean, would you want to see the New York Philharmonic as nature intended? Right, then. Me neither.
But which top orchestra in any major city would you really like to see in an organic Garden of Eden performance? I can think of two or three. Send your nominations in below, and let’s see if we can’t put together a charity gala at the Musikvereinsaal…
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