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Roger Waters' Ca Ira in the Hague - May 5th, 2008 Print E-mail
Written by Guntmar Ploetzke   
Friday, 09 May 2008

ca ira in den haag press picture Last weekend saw the culmination of many months of hard work by Joke Tuinema and her team of musicians, singers, and other key individuals, responsible for the staging of Roger Waters' opera Ca Ira in The Netherlands. (The picture to the right is from the newspaper Noordhollands Dagblad, which ran a major piece on the event)

With thanks to Joke, who supplied the pictures below from the preparations of the event, and Guntmar Ploetzke, the author of this piece who shares his experiences over that weekend, we bring you a wrap-up of what took place. And, from other emails we've had, everyone had a thoroughly enjoyable time, so congratulations to all involved!

What an event!

We came to The Netherlands from Hannover, Germany to see this big work from Roger Waters for the first time. We arrived on Saturday and met the coordinator Joke Tuinema in the hotel right beside the World Forum Theater, which is the biggest theatre in The Netherlands.

Joke became a friend of mine via email in the past months and it was a real joy to meet her and get to know even more details of this project. I couldn't imagine what has to be done to make this dream come true!

On Sunday we (my wife, her sister and husband and me) have had great luck to be invited to be present at the general rehearsal of the complete opera... So we took place in our booked seats for Monday. If that was not good enough we were invited to change places to right before the mixing desk in the centre of the theatre.

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Even in these hours they seemed to be familiar and perfect already with this masterpiece of music which has been played only a few times in its full length. But this was exactly the point I had in mind! There were only little corrections like synchronising the sound effects (they were able to use the original samples), the lights and the position of the choirs (yes, there were three of them). Therefore they played all three acts and repeated only a few parts after that.

The whole opera will be performed in concert on Monday. So there was no need to do a lot of choreographics. But for each song they have animated titles with a little story within of each song shown on the screen in the background of the orchestra. Can you imagine that for "the fugitive king" single letters and numbers turn around and look for the word "king"? Well, if not you can believe me. It all worked very well.

This Sunday afternoon I will never forget!

I could hardly wait the hours until I could sit down on my seat in row 8 on Monday. Will they be able to repeat this perfect sound? Will they be able to synchronize these pictures and animations exactly again?

Will the audience like the combination of choirs, orchestra, sound of birds, fireworks, guns and cannons, marching feet and the Guillotine?

On Monday night we went to the World Forum Theater again to see this unique presentation of Roger Waters' opera. Just a few minutes after eight we entered the hall and took place in row eight. There was no opening speech.

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Sorry Roger: I missed hearing you say a few words about the opera and the approximately 240 enthusiastic people whose hearts are bleeding to put this on stage.

At twenty minutes past eight everybody had took their seats and all calmed down to silence. Rob Vermeulen our conductor tonight gave his first sign. Not to the orchestra or the choirs, but to the sound and vision masters. The ceremony is about to begin.

Wind and wolves are howling, ducks and geese chat and a marching snare drum starts silent and becomes louder...

The overture starts with trumpet and then the whole orchestra gets the full attention of the audience.

The Ringmaster guides us to Vienna where little Marie Antoinette dreams of her life as a queen. Soon the story goes on and life in France is getting worse if you are not as rich as a king. The people queue up for bread while in Versailles they dine and have fun. Only military and guns can hold the starving people back. The revolution is about to come. The King and Queen try to sneak away but they are caught and the King is in prison. The life of King Louis ends under the guillotine and the Queens life as well. The monarchy is over - vive la commune de Paris! Now there is hope of a better life for everyone under the sun.

The audience around me sits still but looks around for the sound effects. Are there birds, is it raining in here? The few people in here who knows the sound of Pink Floyd and Roger Waters are surely satisfied that every gunshot, thunder and downfalling blade is perfectly placed. Every sentence from each singer is perfect in light and place. During "The Fugitive King" the children who sing "...we sing of what we want..." were really shot down (or not?).

Everybody in the audience must think that because they all went down at once and everything on stage is drowned in (blood) red... Remarkable!!

And what are the other highlights?

I can't tell you to be honest. There are too many of them. Every note, every sound and every gesture seems to be as it must be. Too soon we reach the end of the final act. For me there is no need to hear the final words of "Ca Ira" ever again. This is burned in my mind forever!

Everyone in the audience is on their feet for standing ovations. You have to know that every one stood up at once and not because he or she saw other people standing up. I stood up right in time and nearly no one was on their seat any more. So all the audience was fascinated, not only by this music but also this outstanding performance!

After some time we were pleased to sit down again. The children's choir had left its place on stage and comes in line in front before the stage. Starting on the left they handed the old and worn flag of France from one child's hand to the next. Just after doing so the child turns his back in front of the audience so we can read a single letter on its back. When the flag was handed to the right side of the stage every child has turned around and we are able to read: "Thank you for helping us to save a child from war". (Written in Dutch, I hope I've got the meaning right)

After this great event we met Joke, Andre Post and Rob and some others in the hotel bar for a drink or two and we had the chance to learn a bit about the works on this opera. This has made these days even more special and unforgettable to us.

And again:
Sorry Roger: You missed an outstanding performance. These people did an outstanding job and you would have been very proud to see what they have created on the stage. Due to the limited budget there was not as much advertisement as was needed for another staging.

It's too sad that this was a one-off performance. I know the artists would love to do it again.

So everyone who has not seen this opera yet, look out for CA IRA! in the future. The ones who've seen it, will want to see it again and again...

Our thanks to Guntmar, and our congratulations again to Joke and everyone else involved in the production.

 
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