Saturday 22 February 2014

Paul Bunyan ETO LInbury - the most penetrating review.

HERE is a link to Claire Seymour's review of the ETO's Paul Bunyan at the Linbury, London. Please take the time to read it because it's exceptionally penetrating and well analysed. Claire wrote the book The Operas of Benjamin Britten, the standard reference in the field  Lots of people came new to the opera, and most of them want to find out more and sharpen their appreciation. Alas most newspaper critics didn't seem to make the effort.

"Bunyan’s final words to the emergent nation weresomewhat lost, as the party-goers began clearing up the debris of thecelebration. Perhaps Steel was making a subtle point: Bunyan says, ‘Americais what you do/ America is I and you, /America is what you choose to makeit’, but these Americans did not listen and fail to recognise theirresponsibilities, individual and collective. In the closing moments, Steelattempted to add some political depth to the production. If the action hadalready suggested that the American Dream was flawed at the start, then thefuture certainly did not look good for these loggers, judging by the contentsof the wicker basket left by Bunyan for the loggers, like a prophesy to beresignedly accepted or actively resisted. Bent intently, and to the incredulityof the onlookers, Inkslinger withdrew first a pistol, then a lurid Guantanamojumpsuit, followed by an overly large Bible (presaging the influence of theChristian Right?), a shabby copy of Playboy, some fast food wrappers,a lap-top, a periwig and noose. This chain of emblems of the institutions ofstate and finance spoke powerfully. The final image of black soprano AbigailKelly, draped with a crumpled Stars and Stripes, was a poignant one.’ 

photo copyright Richard Hubert Smith

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