Saturday 21 January 2017

A Curious Story, Written In Faded Ink

And so to the opera. I have been to see Benjamin Britten's 'A Turn of the Screw' performed as a genuine chamber piece, in a studio theatre in front of a few dozen people. The last time I saw it was in full scale opera house with a full set featuring a two story house; here there was a dolls house on a plinth and that was about it. The cramped space, with performers repeatedly moving through the audience, plus the very low level of lighting ideally matched the ghost story theme, as did a couple of well-judged theatrical elements. The children were, of course, sung by adults, but they were also acted by children, the performers moving around in matched pairs. I can't explain why that made it more chilling, but it did. As did the appearance of Peter Quint: who was very thin with bleached blonde hair, his face made up very pale and wearing contact lenses that hid his pupils. Things weren't helped by the fact that he kept jumping out from behind the curtains right next to where I was sitting. The first time was frankly terrifying, but even the subsequent, less surprising, occasions gave me the willies.

As it's an opera I should mention the music and singing, both of which were most impressive. I very much liked the small and intimate scale of it all; somewhat of a contrast to Aida in Verona and proving what a versatile art form it is.

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