Sunday, 18 October 2020

ON play ELP

 "No wise man ever wished to be younger." - Jonathan Swift

My incapacities have been fairly selective: I can't drive or do anything that requires close up focussing plus I fall over if I'm not careful, but other than that I can get about OK. And so I have been able to partake of some of the cultural activities opening up, albeit to be immediately closed back down again. Firstly, there was a recital by a baroque violinist. In fact, now I think about it, that was the day I got carted off to hospital, although it would be most unfair to blame her.

Once I had got myself together again it was the turn of what is now known as the Leeds Playhouse, which has been having a festival of performances for works with not many performers. First up was Poulenc's short opera for single soprano, 'La Voix Humaine'. I've seen this a couple of times before and I still wonder a bit what it's meant to represent. Is she really living through what we see or is it the condensed reminiscences of an unhappy period in her life on which she is looking back? I believe that Cocteau's play, on which this based, was more explicit, especially about the ending, but I've never seen it so that doesn't really help.

I'm also a bit ambivalent about the second piece, Beckett's 'Krapp's Last Tape', which likewise dates from the end of the 1950s. Krapp is a sad, shabby, bald man in his sixties who sits all alone at home on his birthday looking back on his life and wondering how it had ended in loneliness and failure. So, no parallels with your bloggist there then, except perhaps for needing to cut down on the bananas. I think it was about getting old and realising that being young was better, but frankly am open to alternative suggestions if you have them. 

Lastly, but not least, I saw the brass and percussion sections of the Orchestra of Opera North perform a programme of works which might have been - but wasn't - labelled as a tribute to Emerson, Lake and Palmer. They opened with Copeland's 'Fanfare for the Common Man' and closed with a selection from Mussorgsky's 'Pictures from an Exhibition'. It was like reliving my youth, except without all the aggravation of health, ambition and hair. I enjoyed it immensely, but shall not be rushing off to buy a copy of 'Brain Salad Surgery'.

1 comment:

  1. Whilst I was an ELP (or P as they're now known) fan in the 70's and saw them a couple of times, (and I still love Pictures at an Exhibition), of all the "prog rock" groups they seemed to have aged the worst. They really do sound full of pomp and over the top!