Monday, 3 June 2013

Why Glyndebourne's Ariadne works for me



It's not fared well in the press, but Katharina Thoma's production of Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos adds up. At least it did for me when after all that talking about it I finally got to see this very original take on my desert island opera at Glyndebourne on Sunday. The cynical might say I was primed to like it by Thoma and the very intense mezzo singing the pivotal role of the Composer, Kate Lindsey (in the first of Alastair Muir's production photos above), when I spoke to them a week before the opening for The Arts Desk. It's true that everything Thoma explained about Ariadne's longing for death along with Bacchus's emergence from a life-threatening experience made sense as applied to traumatised victims of the Second World War in a makeshift country-house sanatorium who move from darkness to light. But it could have remained just a concept.


Instead, what ultimately materialised was what I'd most expected to miss - poet Hofmannsthal's essential 'mystery of transformation' - as Vladimir Jurowski gave the last half-hour wings and two very fine singers rose to the challenge. Soile Isokoski is no great shakes as a mover, but she acts with the voice, and what an ideally Straussian one it is for the most part, opulently riding the composer's 37 piece orchestra when it wants to become a hundred-headed hydra for Bacchus's arrival. I believed in her attempted suicide as she awaits the messenger of death; and, though it was all a little quick, in her capitulation to an almost equally befuddled Bacchus. Yes, it did indeed bring tears to the eyes and that sense of heightened emotion we so rarely find in this tricky and usually less than plausible love duet.


Sergey Skorokhodov had been under the weather on the first night, according to reviews, but yesterday evening we got the most convincing heroic-tenor god/hero on both dramatic and vocal fronts I've ever seen and heard in this usually thankless role. Anticipation of his turning up at Convalescence House, heralded not by three nymphs but keyed-up nurses drooling over a newspaper report, was decked out in all the glow the trio had earlier missed in their more Rhinemaidenish scene, the one blip where co-ordination with the London Philharmonic was less than spot-on.

All the more amazing, then, that the Prologue never dropped a stitch. Even the anti-Regietheater hordes surely couldn't have faulted Thoma's close lining-up of every little detail with the febrile clarity of Jurowski's absolutely fresh interpretation. One of many felicitous touches was to add to the four commedia dell'arte (read ENSA) gents - deft lindyhoppers and jitterbuggers in the opera's intermezzo - a fifth, playing the pianist which Strauss so often uses to accompany their antics. He twiddles assent to the Dancing Master's pirouette, and in the opera strikes his little top note on Zerbinetta's 'Verwandlungen' before zipping off to avoid any more of her touching-up.


Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke as said 'choreographer' to the comic troupe is Glyndebourne's character tenor of choice - how I'd love to see him as Mime - and spars well with Thomas Allen's consummate Music Master, still in absolutely top form vocally (above left with Ablinger-Sperrhacke). All the bit parts are taken with the detail only seven weeks of rehearsal at Glyndebourne can allow; among them there's a promising turn from Frederick Long as the Lackey who's knocked over and takes his bullying out on the Composer. Lindsey burns and rages, the boy wonder to the life; if the voice might be a bit slimline for a bigger house, it's perfect here - and indeed, a first-time acquaintance with this most sophisticated of 'little entertainments' in a theatre exactly the right size is a revelation, especially given all that orchestral cleverness.


Is the curtain to the backstage shenanigans one step too far? I think not, given that the music fulminates so and really leaves the action nowhere to go otherwise. A suicide, as in Claus Guth's Zürich production, is no solution, so I reckon Thoma got it right in her given context. We had a bonus, by all accounts, last night: an indisposed Laura Claycomb* - the Zerbinetta pictured below, obviously - was replaced by her cover, Ukrainian soprano Ulyana Aleksyuk. The swelling on the right notes to more than tweety-pie brilliance gave the love-scene of the Prologue a real extra frisson.


In the opera, it turned out Aleksyuk is no spot-on coloratura, but she still carried it off and managed all the top notes. And here I do think the stage business, confining Zerbinetta at her most Lucia-ish to an injection and a straitjacket, is one step too far. At least it cues an hallucinogenic second instalment of the Harlequinade, three of the four boys dragged up as the nurses; a plausible substitute for more of the same, which usually palls. And how dull, brainless and obscure, despite a surprisingly radiant performance from Renée Fleming and a very promising one from Jane Archibald as Zerbinetta, is Philippe Arlaud's Baden-Baden production which I've just reviewed on its DVD release for the BBC Music Magazine.

Anyway, I was duty bound to post this tonight, since tomorrow (Tuesday) is the live screening in cinemas across the country and the livestream via Glyndebourne's own website, both starting at 6.45pm (UPDATE: the whole thing is available to view when you want on the Guardian's website until 31 August). Don't miss one or the other - and stay with the experience to the very end even if you don't at first like what you see of the opera; it really is crowned with the mother of all transcendent finales. A reminder, too, that if you want to mug up on the basics of the elaborate high-art vs low-art drama, the Glyndebourne podcast presented by Peggy Reynolds with some rather alarming interpolations from self is worth a listen or a download here.

So, not quite a perfect view of Ariadne, but when good, great. And there were hardly enough false notes to strip the afternoon and evening of their perfection. I had an especially happy time with the pre-performance talk, and was delighted to welcome in the audience a stylish DJd gentleman with an excellent green mohican and some very classily dressed ladies in shalwar kemises of delicious hues. They were not shy with their thanks afterwards, either.


We also found a fabulous new spot of pleasing remoteness for the picnic. The gardeners have cut green paths through the meadow above the lake and below the sheep field that goes uphill towards the wind turbine. Here the sun warmed us all the way through the long supper interval as we tucked into substantial fare not from Bill's - the old regime of salad boxes is no more - but from a promising cafe/deli closer to the station. A few quick garden shots: most varieties of tulip are over, but not these in the formal garden


and diverse irises are now in their prime.


The cycads shoot out their ferns at last,


the much-loved mulberry near the house is finally leafing - will we be back to enjoy its delicious fruits? - 


and a ceanothus alongside alliums frames the lawn ensembles.


I mentioned Sean Henry's painted bronze sculptures in an earlier entry - any reservations on artistic merit may be offset by the fact that the figures are certainly good theatre - but I fancy Bryn as 'The Wanderer' wasn't there the week before the season started. He certainly is now, and dwarfs a tall admirer of his (this for both our blogging Wanderer and Lottie in Zurich).


Only one sour reminder spoiled the Sussex summer idyll. Every time the train from London to Lewes hits the viaduct at Balcombe, I instinctively look up from whatever I'm reading. It might be the sudden extra light from an abundance of sky, but in any case this is the loveliest part of the journey as you look down on the Ouse valley from a great height. I've never seen the viaduct from below but it enhances rather than spoils the landscape, I think.

Unlike the proposals to frack in the Balcombe area, the thin end of the exploitable wedge. France and Bulgaria won't allow fracking, swathes of America are against it, the evidence of potential damage is mounting all the time, so what motivates our greedy Conservatives -among them Balcombe MP Francis Maude, who appointed Lord Browne, a director of the firm Cuadrilla which intends to exploit these Sussex resources, to the Cabinet Office three years ago?


The gasdrillinginbalcombe Wordpress site which uses the above as its banner (read the inscription and much more here) will keep us all in the picture. And when the local people hold their next protest, I for one hope to be there with them.

*Tuesday evening - so much for the Berglund piece I was supposed to finish tonight. I succumbed to the opera - ie post-interval - partly because I wanted to see Claycomb. And she made more sense of the move from entertainer to crazed nympho: I understand now how it's used as a fulcrum to shift the balance from Ariadne's problems to the ones Zerbinetta turns out to have, too. No injection tonight, by the way. And this time really accurate coloratura which Claycomb could carry out while doing and having done to her all manner of things. 

The duet moved me as before, though for the film they'll have to use Sunday night's take of Bacchus's final phrase; Skorokhodov wasn't quite on the same top form tonight. Now - comments, anyone? Do say if you hated it and we'll argue it out.

29 comments:

Susan Scheid said...

I remember your J telling us about the delights of Glyndebourne. I do hope we'll be able to get there one day. Meanwhile, at least we have your reports, not to mention that charmer of a pose with Terfel! My DVD of Ariadne has arrived, I'm told, but my J forgot to bring it home (it was sent to school), but soon enough, it will be here, and I look forward to that. (Not that you need another weather report from here, but the heat wave has passed, and we are sitting in our newly completed screen porch tonight, cool breezes wafting in, listening to the crickets. Heavenly.)

David said...

Yes, despite all the class thing and the bore of donning a DJ - which will surely become much more optional sooner or later - it remains a slice of heaven on a good day. And nowhere else gives the artists such preparation time.

Which DVD Ariadne did you plump for in the end?

Pure blue-sky June weather here, but now central Europe ails from the floods.

Susan Scheid said...

David: Thank you for the tip-off that Ariadne could be seen here; I’d checked, but wasn’t sure. It didn’t, in any case, seem likely that I could bring myself to stay in behind the computer to watch it on a beautiful day, but turns out the pollen count is very high, so a retreat indoors this afternoon to watch turned out to be just the thing—and to think I was able to watch without fancy duds on, too! Gosh, I wish the singing I’d heard at the Met this last season had been as consistently good as that I heard here. Such a beautiful score it is, reminiscent of Der Rosenkavalier in so many ways. (I don’t see how anyone could fail to love the Prologue, particularly with someone like the delectable Kate Lindsey in the trousers roll.) Now, remembering I’m brand new to this opera in every way, I did find the production choice in the second act a bit difficult. I think I really looked forward to the competing claims of high and low art being played out, and the introduction of the very dramatic war setting I found confusing. I suspect, if I’d had grounding in the opera to begin with, it would have been easier to settle in to the approach. I’ll be interested to watch the DVD and compare. (The DVD that’s coming is Levine/Voigt/Dessay.) How terrible about the flooding—I hadn’t seen the reports, somehow. I do hope you, wanderer and your mates are able to get about all right.

David said...

I think you've got it exactly right, Sue: if you've not seen Ariadne on stage before, it's true that the original concept of two types of entertainment played simultaneously is completely subordinate to the idea of finding human truths in both. That said, I imagine if you see Ariadne and Bacchus as distanced heroic figures, you can't really feel for them in the same way. I thought this was a real, albeit telescoped love story.

But you've got that clear and colourful Met production to watch, so you can make up your own mind. Voigt is very funny - and was still rather large then - but not exactly touching or vulnerable, I fancy.

Isn't Kate Lindsey a lovely boy? Her reactions in close-up were wonderful and I found nothing wanting in the fullness of the voice this time.

Now I'm hopeful that others who've seen it might join the debate. But expect nothing on a blog and you can only be pleasantly surprised.

Dresden now braces itself for 5m water rise. They're already baling out the basement of the Semperoper so Rosenkavalier could yet be cancelled/removed to another place/done in concert? We'll see. Unimaginable from our currently idyllic standpoint here.

PS - I can't resist an observation on 'trousers roll'. After all, you ARE Prufrock ('I grow old' etc)

Susan Scheid said...

Trousers roll, eek! If not a Freudian, certainly a Prufrockian slip if ever there was one! May the waters subside in Dresden and elsewhere, so terrible the extremes of weather, so sad the collective will does not seem to recognize what may be needed vis-vis climate change.

David Damant said...

There is a story that a guest at Glyndebourne was looking across the haha towards an absolutely empty meadow when a remark was made to him by an elderly gentleman who was afterwards identified as John Christie, the founder of the opera. "When it is Mozart the cows are all crowding up to the haha so as to be as near as possible. But today they are miles away!!! O dear!"
What I have forgotten is what was being performed that day......

wanderer said...

The prospect of Semperoper being flooded (again) is too dreadful to contemplate and I refuse to even indulge the thought and in blissful denial can't wait to rub my small 'w' shoulder with yours, in person, now so much more sooner rather than later.

We are one city closer, having brought the sun to Amsterdam where the 'new' Rijks lives up to all the accolades indeed.

Daisy said...

I am afraid I really loved it mostly so no arguing. The crowd were watery in their applause and we heard lots of bleating in the bar and on the train platform. I saw Zerbinetta as repressed - hence the straighjacketing was a good device - but people thought it trivialised her suffering. And Ariadne's suffering in the trauma ward was captivating - you really felt her total grief. All the singing was brilliant-I thought the movement - the official dancing a bit ropey - was that on purpose perhaps? I didn't want it to end. My uncle is 92 and has been going to Glyndebourne since 1938. Pretty impressive uhn?

Susan Scheid said...

wanderer, David: Well, wanderer, may you continue to bring sun! Thought you both might be interested in this: guess where Adams's Saxophone Concerto will premiere? Sydney, Australia! (August 22-23, 2013), link here.

Mossy said...

I saw Ariadne last Thursday with our Ukrainian substitute, who was very acceptable, even though I am sorry to have missed the first cast Zerbinetta.

For me, the Prologue was perfection itself, with, as ever, Glyndebourne pretending not to be presenting itself on stage (Capriccio works similarly for this house).

Kate Lindsey was captivating, and Thomas Allen so much more on form than he was in the dreary Glyndebourne Fledermaus.

I can also recommend most strongly the delicious production paintings by Julian Sutherland-Beatson...

http://glyndebourne.com/discover/julian-sutherland-beatson-0

http://glyndebourne.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/gallery_full/discover/images/244_-_ariadne_4_28.5.13.jpg

However, I felt that the second half didn't work anything like as well as a production, certainly not visually. For me, it ran out of ideas- all that dull gauze- and a couple of tricks were missed:-

a) the stars didn't come out into the night sky of the proscenium at the end! Ariadne too can be a "sternflammende Konigin", with the assistance of Bacchus' divine magic;

b) I was hoping that there might be some fireworks- on stage if not beyond the haha as we exited the auditorium.

But yes, I shall buy the DVD when it emerges, and will go ahead when it is revived.

David said...

Marvellous - we've steered back to Ariadne again. Pace Mossy, I feel there was a different enchantment at work here: the possibility of a brighter future after all the intense suffering. Fireworks would have diminished it. I know, not the archetypal Glyndebourne Ariadne, but now that I think more about it, a different sort of tale, about high art (as embodied in the Composer) coming to grips with a more complex humanity.

Daisy, I understood the trajectory of Zerbinetta's aria much more with Laura Claycomb (as I mentioned above). You missed Sunday night's additional injection... Audience on Sunday night seemed much more mixed about it: some of the folk who'd been to my talk really admired it. I think, at least I hope, we haven't heard the end of this.

Can't wait for Adams's Sax Concerto, Sue, though it looks as if, in Blighty at least, we may have to.

Keith Fosbrook said...

Didn't like the second half at all! Trying to work out why...Possibly because a hospital seems to be a largely anti-erotic space and this worked against taking A and B's passion seriously, though I suppose it was chosen from a feeling that the mythological setting also makes it hard to take. A came across as a sick person who was quite rightly being confined and, on the other hand, when Z was put in a straightjacket, this seemed to be telling me that her version of passion was also being undermined. The humanity of Richard Strauss tells me that I should believe in both A and Z, but this production told me to believe in neither. Also, although I felt that there were many excellent details in the production of the Prologue, I thought that the meeting of A and B was marred by wooden acting and irritating gesture - not to mention the tenor's apparent loss of control at the end. Add to this the usual crop of jarring moments when a production is out of synch with a libretto and, altogether the music struggled to seduce me...

David said...

Well argued, Keith (better than most of the broadsheet critics, who simply lashed out). I agree that Isokoski and Skorokhodov aren't the best actors in the world, and poor old Sergey did indeed lose control over the very last phrase; he was perfect when I saw the opera on Sunday (and fortunately the cameras were there for that too; I suspect they'll use that version of the final duet for the DVD).

Of course, as you know, I WAS seduced by the music and convinced by the essential situation: the love between the two, if rather foreshortened, seemed real to me for the first time.

Susan Scheid said...

Just a quick word to say that I, too, am pleased to see all this additional conversation about Ariadne. I'm so glad I was able to see the production, and all thanks to you, David. I'll likely be back once I've watched the Levine/Voigt DVD--and I'll be on the look-out to see this opera live. David: Is your talk recorded (I'm assuming this is different from the podcast)?

David said...

Thanks, Sue: yes, it's quite different from the snippets on the podcast - rather well threaded by Peggy, don't you agree? - and I don't think it was recorded. Time was when Gbne used to film the study days too, but I don't think that was the case this year.

Acolyte said...

At the risk of shoehorning in a comment from elsewhere, here's one which adds to what you say and gives further food for thought. It's off the Glyndebourne website, from Catherine Valori:

'I saw the production last night (in a live stream, at the Clapham Picturehouse), and I absolutely loved it. It’s a brilliant, daring, beautiful production. The music is gorgeous, the singing is sublime, the acting is superb, and the setting is visionary. Thoma brings the major preoccupation of Strauss’ work, the relationship between art and real life, to the fore: how art can distract us, in a selfish way, from grim reality (fiddling while Rome burns), but also how art can heal us, and help us to understand or make sense of life’s (sometimes senseless) chain of events – we only have to look at Wilfred Owen to see the power of art in the aftermath of war. The journey from despair to hope, made, in this production, by the Composer, Ariadne and Bacchus in the opera proper (after the interval), is a shining example of that slow renegotiation with reality which must come after a terrible catastrophe – physical or psychological – before one can rejoin the ‘real world’ again, where sometimes art makes ‘better’ – i.e. more bearable – sense of life. This, for Strauss, is the vindicating power of art (keeping the Composer on stage is a brilliant move by Thoma here).

'The depiction of the asylum as Ariadne’s island of isolation is acute and powerful: we might also think of Tom Rakewell in Bedlam in the final act of The Rake’s Progress. It’s also eminently fitting to the myth: Bacchus is the god of ecstasy, of ‘standing outside yourself’, of the mind-altered state; Ariadne is demented by grief; Bacchus is the right god to bring her back, to rehabilitate her disorientated mind, and Thoma creates the perfect context for this mutual healing and learning. There is also a delicious pun in the background: just as Strass and Hofmannsthal use myth to ‘elevate’ their opera seria, this setting reflects how we ourselves ‘mythologise’ the wartime period as a time of moral sacrifice and heroic ideals: myth for the modern age.

'Thoma’s production certainly refashions this opera: but in a way which makes it more vivid, more real, and more powerful – exactly what a good, new production should do for a discerning audience. Well done EVERYONE. As she proves, there is no better place to question the vanity of art – or illustrate its ultimate power – than against a backdrop of violence. Fabulous.'

Brava!

David said...

Brava indeed - art against a backdrop of violence, slow negotiation with reality: all this is first-class. And needless to say I agree with every word. With each new opinion on either side, other than the brainless ones, this is a production to make us think more and more after the event. Is Thoma in the R Jones league? It very much looks like it.

Susan Scheid said...

David: I watched the Levine/Voigt/Dessay Ariadne now and want to try and give some thoughts—though I must say it’s going to feel a bit of a non sequitur after that brilliant commentary by Valori, not to mention that all of my experience with this opera consists of watching the two productions you noted. That said, here goes:

Watching the Glyndebourne version’s Prologue, I was immediately attracted to the brilliant irony of presenting a contest of sorts between high and low art, which, on the one hand, seems to “favor” low art (in the humor), but is actually trumped all the way through by the high art (the music and the singing). In watching the Met version, that delicious irony didn’t come across as well for me. In comparing the two productions, it seems to me that Kate Lindsey’s sweetness was pivotal to making the irony come through—she wasn’t simply a full-of-himself boy, but a sensitive, hopeful one (so much like the young composers and musicians I’ve met). While Susanne Mentzer has a glorious voice and performed well, her performance lacked Lindsey’s charm, so didn’t pull me over into the high art corner like Lindsey’s did. Added to that issue, I thought Voigt overplayed the comedy, making fun of her own character too much, thus giving too much ground to the “low art” side and losing the clever ironic balance that first attracted me.

As to the second act, it was striking to me, in watching the Met’s version, that I was no longer being thrown off balance by the cognitive dissonance I realized I had experienced with the Glyndebourne in trying to square what was going on in the libretto with what was going on in the production. (I do agree completely, though, that keeping the composer onstage in the second act was a brilliant move—and Lindsey, not by any means Mentzer, was the perfect person for that part.) But overall, in the Met version, it’s as if the scales fell from my eyes and the story of the opera, as told through the libretto, anyway, became clear. I was then able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the gorgeous music and exquisite singing. (Voigt and Dessay were both beyond extraordinary. Can there be anything better than Dessay’s portrayal of Zerbinetta? It’s hard to imagine. As for Voigt: I’ve never heard Voigt’s pre-weight loss voice. How sensational it was. It’s a tragedy that we seem to have lost it.)

Your point that “if you see Ariadne and Bacchus as distanced heroic figures, you can't really feel for them in the same way” makes perfect sense to me, so it’s fascinating to reflect on why that wasn’t an obstacle for me when viewing the Met production. Of course, having just come off my first Ring cycle, where I was completely immersed in the tragedy of the gods, I may not keenly sense the difference between gods and mortals, anyway! In the Glyndebourne performance, I was distracted during the duet, as elsewhere in the second act, because of the cognitive dissonance I’ve mentioned. In the Met performance, without that distraction, the beauty of the music and the singing in the final duet—not to mention the delicacy of Voigt’s performance in the duet (really the entire second act, where she pretty much set aside the broad comedy)—carried me off completely.

David, I am so glad to be introduced to this opera, and to have a double dose of it in such short order, together with this wonderful conversation about it among you and everyone who has commented. The combination of Strauss’s music and Hofmannsthal’s libretto, as in Der Rosenkavalier, is sublime. Ariadne offers vivid proof, to quote Valori, of “how art can heal us, and help us to understand or make sense of life’s (sometimes senseless) chain of events.” Amen to that.

David said...

Likewise beautifully argued, Sue, thanks for taking the time with the detail. Mentzer is the disappointment of that particular Met DVD, I reckon; maybe now you'll be encouraged to see Troyanos in the older one, who is vocally peerless (though no-one, I think, could act it better than Lindsey - and of course she is so good in the opera proper as Thoma sees it).

For me, with the luxury of having seen so many Ariadnes, there was no 'cognitive dissonance' in the Glyndebourne take on the opera. Having been to those darkest of places, I was both moved by what was asked of Isokoski and surprised how much deeper Strauss's 'mourning' music could go in a new context. Elsewhere, as in the Met production you've just seen, I find it's the expressiveness of the voices and the orchestra which carry any persuasiveness about the mythological matchmaking, not the production. And I too was amazed at how good Voigt was then. She wasn't so fantastic earlier, and now, of course, even less so. Oh, the fatal little black dress! Whose next owner, in the Royal Opera's 2013-14 season, is scheduled to be Karita Mattila. I'm hoping, but entirely guessing, that divine Alice Coote will be the Composer.

Susan Scheid said...

David: I absolutely agree with you that in the Met production, "it's the expressiveness of the voices and the orchestra which carry any persuasiveness about the mythological matchmaking, not the production." My own comments here, thought I didn't realize it when I wrote them, indicate that the music and singing carried the duet for me, and not the Met's production (which, as I think on it, had a fairly static second act). So, no gesamtkunst there.

As for Lindsey, her facial expressions and gestures keep coming back to me. Her expressiveness reminds me of Kelley O'Connor as Mary Magdelene in Adams's Gospel According to the Other Mary.

David Damant said...

David - are you sure that Ariadne is one of your Desert Island disks? I thought that it was Rosenkavalier...or are you using up 25% of you allowance on Richard Strauss?

David said...

The funny thing, Sue, is that so much detail of the Glyndebourne Ariadne comes back to me - its impact has gone deeper than I'd have thought at the time.

David - let me make distinctions. Ariadne is my desert island Strauss choice, because I could keep playing it over and over for sheer pleasure (as we did on Naxos). Rosenkavalier is my favourite Strauss opera, after toying with some of the later gems. And I want the final scene from Daphne at my funeral. So I hope these distinctions will allow me to take all three wherever I'm bound (as Strauss himself said of Die Liebe der Danae, which vies with Daphne for favourite final scene).

David Damant said...

Leaping from twig to twig in my usual way, your comment about your funeral music activates my response to a film I have just seen about Albert Speer's actions in 1945 as Berlin was crashing in flames. He organised a performance of the Berlin Phil. !!!! Would any other nation have thought of such a thing at such a moment? I have heard that cyanide sachets were handed out as the audience exited. How musical the Germans are...... Speer realised that it would be his last concert for some time, and perhaps for ever, so it might well be his funeral music.The performance started with the last part of Gotterdammerung !! As Valhalla fell, so did Berlin.
Extraordinary - one would have really liked to ask him about his choice. But he has now left for his own Valhalla

David said...

Herr David, you are apt to be misunderstood in your zeal...but I understand your amazement.

Catriona said...

Not in the same league as Glyndebourne but, arguably, in the same league as Ariadne, were the weekend's performances of the full-length (5-6 hour) version of A Satire of the Three Estates, on the grassy banks below Linlithgow Palace - the first since 1554.
We forget how lucky we are with some works of art, which are performed frequently, allowing us to know them and see different interpretations.

David said...

Now that sounds a better bet than Grimes on Aldeburgh beach. I remember A Satire... turning up as an Edinburgh Festival special in, what was it, 1985 or so? But Linlithgow Castle is something else.

I've always wanted to do a production of Milton's Comus in a little valley outside Ludlow. I know it's been done in the castle grounds, but MY version would be magical, a movearound event.

Susan Scheid said...

David: I'll be back anon to read the new post, but just popping over here with two things: first, I've just listened to the Ariadne podcast again. Gosh, this opera is just so rich. What a gift Glyndebourne gives us in making such things available.

Now, as to the imagined Comus production, I'm curious to know what little valley you have in mind--perhaps I was near there when we visited that area last year, who knows.

David said...

Sue - the Comus valley: I'd need to consult my ordnance survey maps to pinpoint it exactly. Suffice it to say that the valley led up to a mysterious little cottage. On the other hand, maybe it is best left mysterious and un-re-discovered, as that's such a pipe dream.

Susan Scheid said...

You may be right--places as we keep them in our imagination can sometimes be inexhaustible in their treasures in a way the actual place is sometimes not (though, remembering how lovely this area was, that there is certainly so much to explore).