28 November 2013

The Rape of Lucretia at Glyndebourne

The Rape of Lucretia was getting excellent reviews on the Glyndebourne Tour so I was keen to see it. Even if that meant going to Woking.

I do not know the theatre there so had no idea on the seating or sight lines but was prepared to take a risk and fork out £60 for a ticket. That plan came to an abrupt stop at the end of the online purchase process when Ambassador Theatre Group wanted to charge me an additional £9.50 for a ticket fee. I took a very dim view of their obscure pricing and abandoned my purchase.

There was a performance scheduled for Glyndebourne but that was reserved for under thirties so it looked as though I would miss out. Then the rules changed and us oldies were allowed in too.

I went straight for my favourite location, the front row in the Upper Circle. The bar is even less in the way than it appears here as I was keeping my camera low to avoid detection. The snatched nature of the picture means that it is somewhat blurred (I did not allow the autofocus time to focus) but it is sufficient to show the view that I had from there.

The Rape of Lucretia is a legend told by the Romans from around the turn of the millennium (BC/AD) on how they overthrew their Etruscan masters five hundred years earlier.

That meant that it was a well defined, and well known, story with an unhappy ending. For me that took some of the edge off it as one of the great beauties of Turn of the Screw is that it has mysteries in that are not resolved.

And, despite being performed at Glyndebourne, this was the touring version of the opera so the staging was light. I am generally happier with light staging as that leaves more space for the story but when the story does not fill up that space then the weaknesses are exposed.

The singing was fine, as always, and my distance from the stage was no barrier to understanding the words. But I knew that would be the case, which is why I chose those seats.

The interval was bit of a change. Instead of the usual long interval with a picnic and champagne on the lawn it was finding a bench in the Long Bar to eat the sandwiches that I brought with me. And a glass of champagne.

The second half took us to the tragic conclusion and then to an unexpected end when the two modern-day narrators of the legend who had shared the stage throughout told us that the tragedy was undone by Christ's love, or something like that. The tragic ending I could live with, the advertisement for Christianity I would rather have done without.

Fiona Shaw, who directed it, was there . I tried to grab a moment with her afterwards to tell her how much I enjoyed her The Rime of the Ancient Mariner earlier this year but she was a popular woman that night and I did not get a chance. I had to content myself with waving at her like an idiot when she walked by and she was kind enough to wave back.

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