Thursday, 2 July 2015

Uproar at the Opera

We go to the opera in London about once a year, which is just about as often as we are able to afford it. We certainly enjoy a good performance, and should it come as a surprise to know that the reason we go is that we enjoy good singing?

Like many, we are turned off by depictions of violence and by sexual violence in particular. And so we were among many who were shocked by the accounts of the gang-rape scene in the latest production of Guillaume Tell at the Royal Opera House.

Yet the producers seem to believe that it was fully justified. It is the fact that there were children in the audience that makes me conclude that any defence they put forward for the inclusion of the scene cannot be regarded as worthy of being taken seriously. Too much violence depicted on stage and screen is gratuitous, and designed to appeal to base tastes.

They draw parallels with the audience reaction to Stravinsky’s ‘Le Sacre du Printemps’ in Paris in 1913. But can there really be anything at all that these two productions have in common. My view that the audience at ‘Le Sacre’ were simply boorish. At the ROH this week I think that their indignation, while discourteous, was understandable and reasonable.

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