Friday, October 27, 2006

The Turn of the Screw

After the success of my first experience with opera, I decided to visit Glyndebourne to see Benjamin Britten's adaptation of Henry James' 'Turn of the Screw'. Glyndebourne is weird. It is as if someone has picked up a chunk of London's South Bank complex and dropped it into a field in the middle of the Sussex Downs. It has a decent sized concert hall and stage, a top class restaurant and a massive car park, but driving down the narrow country lanes that approach it, you could easily miss the turning. I only found Glyndebourne because I was stuck behind a Toyata Prius and one guessed that the sort of person who could afford one would probably be going to Glyndebourne. Luckily I was right.

The evening was a huge disappointment. The production was good but I realised that I didn't like the music, which lacked heart, and I also had no idea what was going on. The Shostakovich opera I saw last week was in Russian, so there were 'surtitles'. Britten's opera was in English and surtitles weren't deemed necessary, but I couldn't understand a word anyone was saying through the throaty vibratos.

After the first half hour the dim lighting had a soporific effect on me and I started to nod off. By the end of the first act I had woken up but was faced with a dilemma: should I stay or should I go? Reader, I went.

I was tempted to stay. I didn't like the idea of giving up on an important work of art and I also felt that I should get my money's worth, but I also thought that life is too short to put myself through another hour of torment so when the interval began, I walked to my car and drove home. That is the plus side of going to things on your own - if you don't like it you can just go.

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