Editor’s Note: Opera Bloggers Month continues with this lively, well-written blog, “Hairman at the Opera.”
He’s a man based in Cardiff, Wales, with hair who’s got a thing for opera.
He’s created a delightful place to hang out with reviews, news you can use, and occasionally the talking teddy bear. Hairman’s blog allows readers to feel like insiders at WNO–a world class touring opera company–even if they’ve never seen a show there.
Welcome to Operatoonity, Hairman!
O: When did you start blogging and why?
Hairman: I started blogging roughly two years ago, more by accident than by intent. I’d written a few Cardiff Singer posts for Intermezzo’s blog, and she suggested that I start a blog of my own. Although I wasn’t a stranger to the ROH, and probably saw more performances there than anywhere else, I felt that it, and many other big name opera companies, had more than their fair share of blogs devoted to them, so I decided to take up blogging about my own nation’s company, Welsh National Opera (WNO). It wasn’t a hard decision to make, as it had irritated me for quite some time that WNO performances I saw rarely garnered the level of attention they deserved in comparison with ones I saw in London and beyond. Of course, WNO isn’t the only company to suffer in this way, there are plenty of other companies who endure a similar lack of genuine international recognition, which is a shame, because exhilarating, electric nights, are to be found in more than just the same old places.
O: What is your biggest challenge? Biggest thrill?
Hairman: My biggest challenge has been in finding the right “voice” for my blog. Having no musical training I knew, from the beginning, that my blog would rely on how I wrote about opera, not what I wrote. I am never going to be able to expertly dissect a performance and comment if a soprano fails to hit F6, so I have tried to adopt as personable an approach as possible, appealing, I hope, to people a bit like myself, whose only exposure to opera has been through the usual channels – ads, films and music montages from football events. This hasn’t exactly been plain sailing, the blog has seen several “voices” – including a period where a monkey was the ghostwriter…I kid ye not.
My biggest thrill is more of a biggest pleasure – and that’s getting to know people from all over the world who I never would have come into contact with if it wasn’t for opera.
O: What is your favorite post and why?
Hairman: I haven’t got a specific favourite post – normally the one I care about most will be the one I am working on at any given moment. However, there was a series of posts centred around WNO’s Meistersinger (April to July 2010) that have been invaluable to me in my appreciation of opera productions as a whole. As well as enabling me to get closer to the music, and the text, than of any other opera, the posts, thanks to the kind help of WNO staff (including ASM Katie Heath-Jones) gave me an insight into the amount of effort required to put on a production. I’d known, but frankly paid lip service, to the idea of the teamwork involved in productions, but it was only through following the preparations did I truly comprehend how much hard work, from a wide variety of skilled professionals, it takes to put on a show. In many ways it seems unfair to me (now) that though you get to applaud the singers and orchestra at the end of the evening, you don’t get to applaud all the other people who put in an almighty effort to give you a night at the opera.
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Do drop by Hairman’s blog or you can follow him on Twitter @HairmanWNO.