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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

That’s entertainment

As Alan Frost returns to The Actuary Arts page to spread a little culture, we take the other half of the page lowbrow. Having just returned from a triumphant weekend at Munich’s Oktoberfest, celebrating one of the most fun times you can have in a tent with 5000 people, some lederhosen and a lot of steins of beer, we embrace what German culture has to offer.
Matt and Finn

Regietheater means literally ‘director’s theatre’ and is what we experience when a familiar opera opens to a minimalist stage with scuba divers representing, say, water nymphs in a forest glade. It contrasts starkly with the realistic settings of operas in vogue since the middle of the last century. Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is a favourite. The setting is Nuremberg, so one can see why a new approach was required after World War II. Given the title, the director can hardly change the location but he can alter the historical setting. The 16th century was replaced by the 1990s and traditional houses became a monstrous block of flats. During odd moments of tedium one searches for ways in which the director avoids anachronisms. What should a medieval lantern-bearing night watchman become? The answer is the local wino pushing a supermarket trolley full of his accumulated scraps of comfort.

Tosca is set in Rome in 1800. My aprèsski in March, after a delightful day on the Patscherkofel in Innsbruck, was a visit to the Tiroler Landestheater. Scarpia’s offi ce was in a modern tower setting and the torture scene of Cavaradossi was relayed via a TV monitor for Tosca, and us, to see. A less graphic approach would have been preferred.

After a while, one can become inured to the regietheater style. Lucia di Lammermoor is based on an incident that took place in 1669 around the Lammermuir Hills area of Scotland. In the charming Opernhaus in Zurich, there was an impression of a castle interior but the bewildering scenery mattered not a jot. A last minute substitution meant that Lucia was sung by a young British artiste, Jessica Pratt. Thrilling in the mad scene, she should have a good future as a coloratura soprano.

In August, we returned to Bregenz to see Tosca on the lakeside stage. The production style is sheer spectacle. Thousands sat for two hours enthralled by the cleverest opera production I have ever seen. The lake backdrop was magnificent, the stage structure enormous and the coups de théâtre breathtaking. This is opera for the masses and it works so well. Next year it’s Aida and I can’t wait to book.

As chairman of Dorset Opera there is scope for me to practice risk management and devise KPIs; the legacy bequest scheme offers insight into local demographic trends. This is literally the actuarial wider field, in this case a parkland setting. Artistically, The Pearl Fishers did not quite match last year’s Turandot but financially we achieved our objectives and have doubled our weekend audience base in three years. Our director, William Relton, spared us the full force of regietheater. Think Bollywood, think pink, and you’ll have an idea of how it looked.
Alan Frost

Recommended band
99 Luftballons apart, German popular music is pretty grim listening. Where it stands alone is in electronica. Much of this can be attributed to Kraftwerk, the forefathers of modern dance music. The Model is perhaps their best known work but scratch the surface and you will find such timeless classics as Trans Europe Express, Radioactivity and Tour de France to name but a few. Having seen Kraftwerk live, I witnessed perhaps my favourite encore of all time — the band replaced by ‘the robots’, four lifesize mannequins who leave you with their eponymous track. Simply brilliant.

Client entertaining
The Fest, London
For those not fortunate enough to experience Oktoberfest proper, the Fest restaurant and bar in Fulham offers a great local approximation. At the bar you are served huge steins of beer by a bevy of beautiful maidens dressed in traditional costumes, and what better to line your stomach than a meat-centric menu of spicy sausages and pork knuckle? With a live Oompah band on Saturdays, what more could you ask for? Das ist gut, ja?

Art by an actuary
Matthew Fewster
This month we attempt to capture the emotions at Munich’s Oktoberfest. Even wearing lederhosen can’t stop this performer seeking adulation from his adoring (or is that drunk?) crowd. Now we call on you actuaries to get creative and give us more to showcase. Upcoming art may include an actuarial dance hit and interpretations of religious texts. If you can match this — either low or highbrow — let us know!

If you would like your work featured in the Arts page, please e-mail arts@the-actuary.org.uk