Opera and other drugs

This season at Opera North is a season of fantastic fairy tales. So far I’ve seen the Snow Maiden and Hansel and Gretel, and I have Cinderella to go, next Tuesday.

Let’s be clear though. Opera can be a bit insane. It’s innate to the art form, because everything is repeated a hundred times for clarity (but ever so slightly different musical inflection), and there has to be awkward exposition all over the place and eventually it just gets a bit clunky all round.

Also, fairy tales are insane. Have you ever read an original version of a fairy tale? I totally encourage it. They are full of gristle and cruelty and really terrible lessons for young children. You can imagine that combining them with opera is spectacular at the best of times.

Spectacular is not, however, what I’d call this season at Opera North. The music is stunning, as is the singing, and the costume. And the set. And the clever uses of different effects. It’s all great really, except for one thing. The direction. Because the direction is totally barmy, and no-one needs that when the combination of opera and fairy tale is on the edge as it is. Watching the shows is what I imagine being on drugs feels like – plot-lines which suddenly unwind themselves because they are trying to be too clever, while the rest of the show assaults your senses.

In other news I’m ill (again). So more drugs for me, mostly in the form of Benylin.

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