Oh yeh, really, it was like a Royal Wedding. We even had to go to the palace to pick up our invitations to the reception. Well, ok, not the palace but to that big, posh building in the middle of the capital. That CIEM or whatever it is, you know the one with white metal shutter that they can pull down that seems to make the whole building disappear. There was this big sort of reception area and a lady there taking our names and giving out the invites.
Actually she was really helpful and when we asked if could learn a bit more about the arrangements she made a call on the internal phone and this chap came down to meet us in the gold lift. He walked across to us and, to our amazement, we recognised him. He had played the piano at some concerts we had seen. In fact, only very recently we had seen him with one or two choirs and even with Lanzarote Ensemble classical orchestra. We´d thought he was really good. Turns out he was bound to be good as he´s director of the conservatoire ! He shook hands and told us his name is Javier Diaz and he´d be happy to give us some background information on The Marriage of Figaro.
He told us he had always wanted his students to learn how enjoyable opera can be and just how much work, and of what kind, goes into producing one. He said that apart from playing and singing one or two arias in the past, students hadn´t really encountered opera on their curriculum.
¨Playing at the wedding,´ he said, ´would be a thrill, for students to produce and play alongside their mentors and staff members from all over the islands.´ Senor Diaz told us there would be a full choir and orchestra and soloists, too, with full theatre lighting and acoustics.
When we joked that opera is often seen as elitist art in the UK he smiled and said the pupils had enjoyed laughing at some of the comedy and satire in the opera.
The director is obviously immensely proud of the academy and its staff and students and was certainly looking forward to the reception as much as we were.
Of course, by the time we got to the theatre it was obvious that not everyone was happy about this wedding. I´m not sure they ever really trusted that Figaro bloke Suzanne has married. Some people said they had even been spied on whilst canoodled in the privacy of the gardens. What sort of people do that? Apparently Suzanne and this Figaro fella even started leaving false trails and sending notes to mislead people. There were all sorts of rumours flying round the theatre about disguises and deceptions.
Naturally, it all kicked off big time, at the wedding, didn´t it? I don´t know the ins and outs of it but there were hints and allegations of affairs and all sorts of shenanigans.
Before the reception, of course, we´d taken a sneak peak at The actual Marriage Of Figaro. It was the biggest hoo hah ever seen on this island, though, I can tell you. There was no expense spared. There were musicians and singers and the reception ceremony went on for more than four hours. It was all reported on in the newspapers and Diario de Lanzarote estimated there were around 500 guests, but to be honest it seemed to me there were even more than that. I didn´t see her there, but the Diario reported that even the new President of The Cabildo was amongst the guests.
To be honest, it all turned out quite beautifully, though whether or not Figaro and Suzanne will live happily ever after, remains to be seen. She´s very flighty and I thought he seemed a bit of a wimp, really.
The Marriage Of Figaro really was magnificent, though. The costumes, the lighting and the sound, and the props and scenery and the soloist singers and the ensemble vocals were gorgeous. There were fifteen people playing stringed instruments and another fourteen or fifteen playing wind instruments. With seven sopranos, seven altos, three tenors and four bass voices they made a beautiful sound.
Javier was there, as he´d said he would be, playing the leitmotif on the harpsichord, and there was one guest with an English sounding name who pranced around all through the reception as if he was leading the choir.
It was all rather refined. There were no Beatles´ hits being blasted out and the dancing was quite courtly. There was nobody doing the Hippy Hippy Shake, I can tell you. In fact someone told me that all this music, coincidentally, had been written (well, they call it ´composed´ because this is ´proper´ music) about two hundred and seventy years ago, in Europe, whilst Lanzarote was enduring its last series of volcanic eruptions. So maybe opera was the ´rock´ music of its day. To be fair, though, all these staff and student musicians from the Academy worked hard. The reception seemed to last for hours and hours and the congregation kept shouting ´bravo´ and bursting into long rounds of applause.
There was quite a mix of people who attended the wedding. Some people had taken little babies with them and there were definitely three or four generations there of some of the families. In fact, we noticed one or two of the teenagers slipping away after a couple of hours but everyone was really well behaved. Of course part of the fun at a big wedding is looking around to see who else has been invited.
We bumped into some friends even before we went in. We bumped into Dena and Christine with their partners in a bar round the corner having a crafty drink beforehand, and we got all the gossip from them.
They both sing in local choirs and know all about the arts scene on Lanzarote in all its glory and we enjoyed chatting with them. We´ve mentioned them in these pages before, and another musical performer we have made note of here is Marianne Whelpdale, who leads a German Choir and we noticed her floating about at the reception. So, too, we noticed a white haired German man. Now, we don´t know him personally, and in fact we have only spoken to him once, but we see him at nearly event we go to.
At first our view of everything was blocked by two giant young men sitting in front of us, but fortunately they were two of the teenagers who slipped away early. From then on we could see all the proceedings very clearly, and we could see who was trying to ´trap off´ with whom and all the chatting up attempts, successful of not, that were going on.
As the bride and groom were leaving at the end there was the presentation of beautiful bouquets to several major members of the family and we noticed Javier beaming proudly, but shyly, as he was pulled centre stage to take a bow with other performers. Whatever his ambitions were in bringing all this together must have been vividly realised, and his students had done him proud. Despite all the fears about whether they would put in the hard work needed to play to the high standard required the evening was a triumph. Once again, this island, with so few indigenous people, had produced high art of great quality and everyone was all smiles afterwards.
We noticed a few people, though, who we had seen arrive alone, leaving together hand in hand, and heading off into the island´s nightlife. Bound to end in tears some of those new relationships I reckon, just like they do in Coronation Street. In fact, I suppose you could say it was a real soap opera wedding. 000000000000