Saturday, February 12, 2005

Ist possible?

Just saw something in the Radio Times that produced a sensation of sinking horror, the emotion hitting home before I could work out why. Artsworld is showing Kenneth MacMillan's ballet Romeo and Juliet this week and it's nice to see it picked out as a top choice. But the blurb begins: 'It helps to know the Shakespeare play on which Kenneth MacMillan's ballet is closely based...'

My heart missed a beat and a few seconds later I understood: the implication of this sentence is that there are people out there, people who might enjoy ballet on TV, who DON'T know Romeo and Juliet, not even the story.

What is the world coming to? I had thought that Romeo & Juliet, like The Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, was an Essential: one of those stories that you can assume most people (most people who'd want to see ballet, that is) know - as part of themselves, almost as part of modern western folklore. Has all this changed? HOW? WHAT HAPPENED?

COMFORTING, PERHAPS, in the light of this, to have found the RFH packed for Bernstein's Candide last night. Fab show, funny, moving, sharp-edged, amazing music. I couldn't stop foot-tapping and must have annoyed my neighbours. Wonderfully sung, too, with a sensational Canadian soprano, Carla Huhtanen, as Cunegonde, the indefatigable Kim Criswell as The Old Lady and the latest hot property - fresh-faced, bright-voiced young US tenor Michael Slattery - in the title role.