Voices in the Forest review

By 25 November, 2012 26

sumi jo

I was a little bit dubious about this concert before going. I was worried that it would just be ‘greatest (opera) hits’, and in one sense, that was true. But it was a privilege to see the wonderful soprano Sumi Jo, and Australians Amelia Farrugia and Stuart Skelton.

I had forgotten how much I miss opera; yes, the plots are often toxically silly, but the pure beauty of the voices makes you forget that you’re listening to the nineteenth century’s equivalent of The Bold and The Beautiful. I think I may be going up to Sydney a bit more next year.

The orchestra boasted some severe sunburn on some ladies’ arms in the string section. It was 30 degrees when the concert began, and they had been rehearsing for hours, if not days, outside, no doubt.

This was my first visit to the Arboretum. As Mr Poetix said, it will be very nice when there are trees. But there are currently great views over Canberra from the site. Sitting on a seat, I envied those with picnics on the grass; and children frolicked in front of the stage until an announcement was made that they should sit down. I thought the applause following that announcement was a tad unnecessary.

The accessibility to the site is a worry for those with mobility issues, being very steep; and paths are pure gravel at best. My major gripe is that there were, I believe, more male toilets than female at tonight’s event. Easily fixed if you’re bold, but many women are not.

We had a quick meal after the concert in the round building at the top of the hill, catered by the excellent Hudson’s catering. As you’d expect, there’s a lot of wood on display, in the rather James Bond villain style building.

Here’s a photo of Sumi Jo with Chris Latham.

All in all this was a great night, and I would recommend going next year, particularly for anyone who has never sampled opera before.

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26 Responses to Voices in the Forest review
#1
I live in Macgregor10:47 am, 25 Nov 12

Nice review Poetix… Just added this event to next year’s to-do list. There’s a lot happening in Canberra in 2013. Will be an exciting year for those who love this city and all it’s hidden gems and opportunities.

#2
EvanJames11:21 am, 25 Nov 12

I was offered free tickets (came with a hamper of nosh apparently) but it was pretty late notice and we had other things happening, unfortunately. Sounds like it was worthwhile and well-run, except for the toilets thing. So many events get this absolute basic so very wrong. I wonder why?

Regarding this: “. I thought the applause following that announcement was a tad unnecessary.”

What that was, was people thanking the announcer for asking families to remember where they were. ie not their back yards or a playground. To often these days, people with kids are allowed to run rampant and ruin these experiences for others, to the point where non-families leave early. We had one-such experience recently, it just stopped being enjoyable due to screaming/running kids, so we left.

The applause was in support, and gratitude. And it was spontaneous, you might want to take note.

#3
Madam Cholet3:20 pm, 25 Nov 12

I went along to the cheap seats – blanket to sit on with nibbles and wine – with a friend, and had a lovely time, although sadly we did have to leave before Sumi Jo.

Didn’t have to use the loos so can’t comment, but agree that the parking situation is a bit odd and I hope that this is on their list of things to do in a better and more formal way. It was not disabled friendly in the slightest, and even huffing up the hill sharing a load of surprisingly heavy nibblies and alcohol was harder work than Iwould have hoped on a very hot day.

I noted that they encouraged people to arrive as early as 2pm, which in the heat obviously not that many people decided to do given there is not a skerrick of shade up there. It seems that everyone had the same idea as us, and arrived just after 4 on the Tuggers parkway to be met with long queues. It did at times seem a bit dangerous with cars spilling back onto the parkway, but anyhow, once we started moving it seemed to clear fairly easily.

I would have liked to have seen a more detailed program beforehand – might help the rush to get in by the official start time if everyone knows that it’s just the RMC band for best part of an hour. Not to say that the band was not good, although could not see them from our rug on the sidelines. It took me a bit of time to work out that it was live because they were squirreled away at the back of the stage…apparently.

Re the kids….from where we were the kids looked to be having a great time, rolling down the hills and tiring themselves out. Two old biddies in official event garb had a word to a few prior to the intermission at about 7pm which I thought was a bit harsh. The event did not say it was unsuitable for children, and with that start time, what else was going to happen? I was hoping a rolling child might take one of the old biddies out! Can understand the headline act invoking this rule, but I think that most people would have been ok with it beforehand.

Nice to see the GG there in A fetching pink pantsuit.

Anyway, the opera we heard was beautiful. Some familiar, some not. Definitely would go again, and definitely in the cheap seats. View from up this is one of the best you’ll get. 3 and a half stars fom me.

#4
poetix4:36 pm, 25 Nov 12

EvanJames said :

I was offered free tickets (came with a hamper of nosh apparently) but it was pretty late notice and we had other things happening, unfortunately. Sounds like it was worthwhile and well-run, except for the toilets thing. So many events get this absolute basic so very wrong. I wonder why?

Regarding this: “. I thought the applause following that announcement was a tad unnecessary.”

What that was, was people thanking the announcer for asking families to remember where they were. ie not their back yards or a playground. To often these days, people with kids are allowed to run rampant and ruin these experiences for others, to the point where non-families leave early. We had one-such experience recently, it just stopped being enjoyable due to screaming/running kids, so we left.

The applause was in support, and gratitude. And it was spontaneous, you might want to take note.

Perhaps there needs to be a special area where kids can run around, well away from the stage. I would not have taken our child, as she would have been too bored. It was a very long performance for children. Although, of course, there were also children’s choirs involved which I didn’t mention in the review.

If the announcement had been made at the beginning of the performance it would have been better. Perhaps this could be done next year.

#5
bigfeet5:15 pm, 25 Nov 12

poetix said :

Perhaps there needs to be a special area where kids can run around, well away from the stage.

There are such places.

For example: Your home, a playground, a park.

Not the opera.

#6
Madam Cholet9:16 am, 26 Nov 12

bigfeet said :

poetix said :

Perhaps there needs to be a special area where kids can run around, well away from the stage.

There are such places.

For example: Your home, a playground, a park.

Not the opera.

For heavens sake! Is it just Canberrans who hate children so much?

It was an event that essentially started from about 2 in the afternoon. Unfortunately that means that parents of small to medium sized children would be there. What are we going to do…ban all parents. Would make for a great event to have all you wowsers there. And then what social evil are you going to whinge about if there are no children there?

Perhaps the organisers need to clearly state next time what kind of event this is – and not sell chips and ice creams and have free space that encourages you to think that children are welcome.

I’m all for well behaved children – and make sure mine is, although did decide not to take him along. But I’m also in favour of a bit of give and take.

#7
Bells9:27 am, 26 Nov 12

I really loved this event. It delivered pretty much what I was hoping for. As we had a niece in the school choir we got there around 3:30 and set up camp on the picnic slope – which was a good call I think, choosing the picnic area. I loved the freedom of us being able to get up and move around without having to move in between rows of seats. As we had a 3yo with us, the freedom of a picnic suited her better too.

On reflection it probably was too long for a toddler but we had entertainment sorted for her, and she commented several times on ‘the beautiful music’ – I totally think if this is to become an annual event in canberra the children issue needs to be sorted. How wonderful for children to have that kind of exposure – I’m glad we had two nieces with us on the day to experience such a lovely, sunny, culturally rich event.

Although, as noted by our 3yo niece – ‘there’s no forest’ – she was sad because we’d sold it to her as picnic in the forest. She’ll have to wait a few years for that I think. She made do with an understanding that it was a ‘baby forest’ instead of a big one.

All in all a wonderful event – we’re not really opera fans although I’ve been moving more towards it so there was enough familiar stuff on the bill to make me feel like I was getting it.

#8
EvanJames9:44 am, 26 Nov 12

Madam Cholet said :

It was an event that essentially started from about 2 in the afternoon. Unfortunately that means that parents of small to medium sized children would be there. What are we going to do…ban all parents. Would make for a great event to have all you wowsers there. And then what social evil are you going to whinge about if there are no children there?

Great attitude. It’s people like you who have driven people to the point of spontaneously applauding a public announcement to parents to control their kids.

We’ve had enough. Used to be that parents understood their obligation to train their kids to behave in public, now they don’t. Used to be that you could expect the rights of all to quiet enjoyment of a public area to be observed by parents, now you can’t. And many people are frustrated by this and are sick of it.

so rather than ranting offensively about your “rights” and children-haters, maybe take note. The people have spoken, and will continue to do so. Control your kids.

#9
Bells10:15 am, 26 Nov 12

You know, they actually catered for children. There were tents up the top with free face painting and crafting activities.

So obviously children were very much included in the event.

#10
Madam Cholet10:20 am, 26 Nov 12

Madam Cholet said :

Great attitude. It’s people like you who have driven people to the point of spontaneously applauding a public announcement to parents to control their kids.

We’ve had enough. Used to be that parents understood their obligation to train their kids to behave in public, now they don’t. Used to be that you could expect the rights of all to quiet enjoyment of a public area to be observed by parents, now you can’t.

And many people are frustrated by this and are sick of it.

so rather than ranting offensively about your “rights” and children-haters, maybe take note. The people have spoken, and will continue to do so. Control your kids.

Like totally OMG! Children! Call the police!

For the record…there were no misbehaving kids. Just kids who were too small to understand that running in front of the stage was not appropriate. I also saw parents retrieving their errant kids.

Can we put a date in our diaries to meet up when you do have a kid? (I’m guessing you don’t). Let’s exchange notes then.

#11
Bells10:49 am, 26 Nov 12

Truly, I think taking children an opera concert hall would be a stretch – case by case inclusion of children would be required there – but in a big open venue? Hot, sunny day, soft grass, picnics, big hills to roll down? Why wouldn’t you want kids there? Save the quiet, earnest appreciation of opera for the concert hall.

#12
poetix11:01 am, 26 Nov 12

Bells said :

You know, they actually catered for children. There were tents up the top with free face painting and crafting activities.

So obviously children were very much included in the event.

Interesting. They did not announce this when I was there, though.

Personally, I thought having the kids run in front of the stage was not ideal and distracting, but, as said before, if children are encouraged to attend, there should be somewhere they can run around with parental supervision. It was strange that this behaviour was allowed/tolerated during the first two segments and then was suddenly stopped by the announcement. The rules should be consistent throughout the performance, to show equal respect to all the performers.

I expect our child minding bill to be well over two hundred dollars, and people should bear this in mind before they criticise parents who take children. Remember, this was a more casual, outside event, not in a concert hall, as Bells just said.

#13
Bells11:19 am, 26 Nov 12

poetix said :

Bells said :

You know, they actually catered for children. There were tents up the top with free face painting and crafting activities.

So obviously children were very much included in the event.

Interesting. They did not announce this when I was there, though.

.

It’s true they didn’t. I only found out about it when I was chatting to a friend I ran into later in the afternoon. I’d had no idea as I hadn’t been up to the tent area before. These were free and a nice addition to the afternoon, I thought.

#14
dungfungus11:21 am, 26 Nov 12

A lot of people complaining on ABC Radio 666 this morning about the appaling traffic problems at Voices in the (future) Forest with over 1 hour waits in and out. Someone even suggested that particpants should be bussed there. Get real; how is ACTION going to mobilise a fleet of busses on a weekend?
I don’t think the entertainment theme park aspect of this venue was thought about in the planning – appears to be only one way and one way out which is a problem in the case of an emergency.
Also, there is little chance the arboretum complex will be on the light rail route with the extreme grades that are there. I think there was another entrance off William Hovell Drive before the 2003 fires and maybe it is time to look at opening it up again.

#15
johnboy11:28 am, 26 Nov 12

An arboretum station with a funicular to the top would be awesome though!

#16
dtc11:32 am, 26 Nov 12

dungfungus said :

A lot of people complaining on ABC Radio 666 this morning about the appaling traffic problems at Voices in the (future) Forest with over 1 hour waits in and out. Someone even suggested that particpants should be bussed there. Get real; how is ACTION going to mobilise a fleet of busses on a weekend?.

ACTION seems to manage to mobilise buses for a lot of events, both on the weekend and even at night time (Brumbies, for example). I’m pretty sure its possible.

#17
poetix11:47 am, 26 Nov 12

johnboy said :

An arboretum station with a funicular to the top would be awesome though!

I think there was a song like that…sort of.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funicul?,_Funicul

#18
Madam Cholet11:49 am, 26 Nov 12

Eminently possible for Action to have played a big role. The person I attended with suggested having Segways available although not that they would have coped with the gradient either. Cool idea tho’.

#19
poetix11:52 am, 26 Nov 12

poetix said :

johnboy said :

An arboretum station with a funicular to the top would be awesome though!

I think there was a song like that…sort of.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funicul?,_Funicul

Here’s that link again, hopefully working this time:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funiculì,_Funiculà

#20
Keijidosha12:25 pm, 26 Nov 12

dungfungus said :

A lot of people complaining on ABC Radio 666 this morning about the appaling traffic problems at Voices in the (future) Forest with over 1 hour waits in and out.

I noticed a number of muppets had parked their cars on the northbound shoulder of the parkway. A slow clap for those imbeciles.

#21
thy_dungeonman2:02 pm, 26 Nov 12

Keijidosha said :

dungfungus said :

A lot of people complaining on ABC Radio 666 this morning about the appaling traffic problems at Voices in the (future) Forest with over 1 hour waits in and out.

I noticed a number of muppets had parked their cars on the northbound shoulder of the parkway. A slow clap for those imbeciles.

To be fair it was the entrance was quite poorly indicated. Driving north on the parkway there was a sing indicating to take the arboretum exit to get to voices in the forest. However at this exit they blocked the roads with cones and had a guy with a stop sign telling people they couldn’t enter, one by one. So there was a long line of cars in the left lane thinking that they were queuing for the entrance when in fact it was closed. And they were not told to continue on until the got to the front, so a lot of people when they heard simply gave up, duped there cars on the side of the road and walked up (it was already 4.45pm). The only way they were allowing people to get in was to drive under the bridge along lady Denman drive. If you are traveling north on the parkway this would require you to drive all the way up the parkway, use the Edinburgh avenue exit to to turn around, then get on to lady Denman, then get into the arboretum. That’s if you knew that in the first place too. If they put a sign back at the forest drive exit then people could have gone towards the “right” entrance from the start.

#22
dungfungus2:30 pm, 26 Nov 12

johnboy said :

An arboretum station with a funicular to the top would be awesome though!

Would that go the to the international hotel / resort / conference centre with the revolving restaurant on top of the tower next JB?

#23
NoImRight2:53 pm, 26 Nov 12

johnboy said :

An arboretum station with a funicular to the top would be awesome though!

A transatlantic tunnel, hurrah!

#24
poetix3:08 pm, 26 Nov 12

dungfungus said :

johnboy said :

An arboretum station with a funicular to the top would be awesome though!

Would that go the to the international hotel / resort / conference centre with the revolving restaurant on top of the tower next JB?

I like the cut of your jib. But surely Zeppelins should be involved too?

#25
dungfungus3:14 pm, 26 Nov 12

poetix said :

dungfungus said :

johnboy said :

An arboretum station with a funicular to the top would be awesome though!

Would that go the to the international hotel / resort / conference centre with the revolving restaurant on top of the tower next JB?

I like the cut of your jib. But surely Zeppelins should be involved too?

The tower will be the Zeppelins docking station. The Zeppelins will have to be solar powered and wind assisted. Subject to Worksafe inspection also.

#26
switch5:03 pm, 26 Nov 12

“Oh the humanity!”

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