BBC Proms at Dubai Opera
As the working week nears to an end, I always take a look at what’s happening over the weekend to see if there’s anything new going on.
Proms in the Dubai Opera, I thought? My inquisitiveness took hold – I was kind of expecting a performance of ladies clad in fabulous ball gowns and men dressed in tuxes staging a waltz. But, as I read on, “prom” is in fact short for “promenade concert” originally referring to outdoor concerts in London, dating as far back as 1838. Now on its 123rd year, it’s only going overseas for the second time and performing its debut in the Emirates.
As soon as I learnt that it’s actually the world’s largest classical music festival, I tried to book tickets for the first and last day – supposedly the best for first-timers. Having had formal training in classical music, I was positive that I’d enjoy every minute of the show. Unfortunately though, tickets sold-out faster than I could say: “encore”. A performing Arabian jazz-fusion quartet is what I was left with, but I was excited nonetheless. So excited, I got my colleague Yennifer to come along for the ride.
It was our first visit to Dubai Opera and we were greeted with a huge sign illuminated with vanity mirror-style bulbs. As we approached the dhow-inspired theatre, a line of colourful fountain jets guided our path towards the main entrance. And, as we waited for the doors to open (while hurrying down some food), we admired the dynamically illuminated glass sculpture, titled “Symphony” by Lasvit. The extravagant chandelier sparkled with thousands of hand-blown crystal bubbles and gave an elegant motion as the light trickled up and down – resembling the movement of water. Even the bathroom had such an inspiring crystal centrepiece above the washbasins, sans light.
Finally, we made it into the auditorium. The show was starting. The quartet got into position. Funny man Joseph Tawadros broke the ice, and he continued through the night with his witty jokes and amusing stories. Lights dimmed. Brief silence. Music played and the lights that slowly transitioned to a bright magenta hue created a dramatic background as a sharp spotlight effectively gave focus to the quartet. From a lively note to a mellow tone, the magentas slowly became a tint of blue and then orange…and yellow. As the quartet came to the climax of one of their pieces, a patterned projector lit the whole stage and an agreeable applause came from the onlookers. I felt quite sure that it was the lighting effect that elevated the rhythm of the music, resulting in the gesture of praise.
The night came to an end perfectly, with two encores from the quartet. For me, it was as much a symphony of light as it was music. I’ll be honest, I’ve never paid much attention to light at a concert as I did that night. Nevertheless, it was a fantastic reminder of how lighting gives more than just illumination – it’s something that can conjure feelings and inspire mood.
Blog post and images by Anna Asuncion