|Nic Synot and James Munro, this week's OzOpera bloggers posing in front of the Dog on the Tuckerbox in Gundagai|
The tour started promptly at 11am on Monday morning out the front of the National Gallery of Victoria with an excited and fresh touring party champing at the bit to hit the road. The first stop on the drive to Albury was at the Avenel roadhouse; the first of many truck/pie stops that will undoubtedly be visited. Albury greeted the group with a crisp breeze reminiscent of a high-altitude village. Nic hit the river track launching his 2012 tour exercise regime, following the winding trail beside the mighty Murray River all the way to the West Albury wetlands.
The day of the first show in Albury was a grey, wet day keeping most people inside cafés and restaurants but James and Nic discovered a squash club and took the action indoors. After a tightly contested and punishing match the sound check provided some welcome relief from the strenuous exertions. As each theatre we visit is different, the sound check is crucial to adjusting to the new acoustic before the show. The orchestra pit in Albury is quite high and the orchestra can be seen clearly which also means that certain players in the orchestra have a view of what’s happening on stage.
Albury was what is known in the tour vernacular as a ‘one night stand’ and the next day we took off for Canberra stopping off at the “Dog on the Tuckerbox” in Gundagai on the way. As we pulled up at the hotel in Canberra it became clear why this tour is known as the ‘cold tour’. Fortunately we have had some quite mild weather (by Canberra standards) since we have been here; overnight lows of about zero degrees, which meant that the habitual first night nudey run was cancelled. Instead, the following day James and Nic woke up with summit fever and ran, not walked, up Mt. Ainslie via the rugged and steep(and perhaps unofficial) hiking tracks. Halfway up we accidentally spooked a mob of the local grey kangaroos. Along with the spectacular views of Canberra at the top, it was a beautiful moment away from the theatre.
The sound check here was combined with a media call and a local TV station took some footage of the remarkably good looking company doing what they do best. The Canberra theatre is very large but with a good acoustic even for our small unamplified show. The crowd for the first Canberra show was huge and hungry for opera showing their appreciation with enthusiastic and spontaneous laughter and applause (each at the appropriate moment). After the show we were able to meet some of that audience at a function Opera Australia held in the foyer. These functions are a unique opportunity to meet the people we’re bringing the opera to and to have a few free drinks.