Sunday, June 08, 2008

Mary Whitehouse moment...

Having missed The Minotaur at Covent Garden, I watched it on TV yesterday - yes, BBC2 actually decided to show an entire brand-new opera by Birtwistle from the Royal Opera House on Saturday night at prime time (so full marks for that).

I ended up hiding behind the sofa. Honest to goodness, guv, I haven't seen anything so scary since the Daleks, or anything so horrific since Downfall.

Of course, it was fantastic - amazing singing and great performances from everyone and especially John Tomlinson and Christine Rice, huge power in the music even if it's tough on the ears and brain (I liked the use of the cimbalom), and the libretto is very striking indeed. I was just relieved not to have been locked into a Bayreuth-style pew for the duration and I really don't think they should have shown it before the watershed.

Could someone over the Pond please tell us something: are Birtwistle's operas performed much in the States, and how do they go over? Ditto for Germany, France and Italy?