Thursday, 15 October 2009


1/10/09, ENO

2 hrs 10 mins. Gyorgy Ligeti's 1978 opera, reworked and revived in a spectacular staging by the Catalan company La Fura dels Baus.

The others liked this much more than I did. It was unquestionably spectacular, the stage dominated by a huge figure of a naked woman, crouching on her knees, bits of whose anatomy opened up to reveal the action. People looked out of her eyes, dropped through her mouth, etc. It was all fittingly reminiscent of Breughel, which was apt since the whole thing was set in "Breughelland".

A devil, or Death, comes down to destroy the world but falls into a drunken stupor instead, having recruited a drunkard called Piet the Pot as his assistant.

A Masochistic philosopher called Astradamors is terrorised by his sadistic wife Mescalina, who whips him while complaining loudly that she wants a "proper man".

Two young lovers sung by sopranos in hooded flesh-coloured leotards make out.

A prince (called Go-Go) has two ministers, one white, one black (well, white actually, but blacked up). There is a chief of the secret police who in this production was played by a frantic soprano in riot police uniform.

A video at the start and at intervals during the proceedings suggested the giant body was that of a woman who thought she was having a heart attack but who turned out only to need a good shit.

It made some sense, but not a lot, and the music was uncongenial.

Rebecca Bottone was one of the lovers, Susan Bickley was the whip-wielding Mescalina, Simon Butteriss the black minister.

Here are some reviews:

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