|A Midwinter Night's Dream
||[Dec. 22nd, 2012|09:38 pm]
We had booked for Crow's Bones at the Sage on the description "A Folk Ghost Story for Christmas"
Murdered lovers and kisses that kill; this specially curated Yuletide evening of ghostly songs will send shivers down your spine. Led by Lau accordionist Martin Green, a collection of handpicked folk luminaries including Becky Unthank, nykelharpist Niklas Roswall and singer Inge Thomson draw together traditional folk songs from northern lands about ghosts, ghouls and unquiet spirits. Having come in through the folk door, I was surprised to learn I was at the opera, but I'd never had guessed if it hadn't said so on the programme: low lighting and genuinely spooky sounds fitted the ghost story framework, minimal and slightly surreal scenery (bare branches and wind-up gramophones) reminded me of 60s arts lab staging. The performers had put some creative thought into the staging, and the lighting and use of video were atmospheric (though it would make a terrific radio piece, I think, without losing anything essential).
I very much enjoyed the prelude to the main performance, in which Niklas Roswall played and talked about the nykelharpa. I find it harder to get a grip on Crow's Bones itself: it's elusive, amorphous, ungraspable as a ghost: and the effect this had on me was that I kept drifting off to sleep. I'd been awake a long while in the previous night; and it isn't boredom that sends me off to sleep, boredom irritates me into wakefulness, while a level of engagement carries me with it out of my waking self. Even so, it's not easy to confess that the wistful melodies and ethereal voices sent me into a dreamland of ghosts and restless spirits, floating between sleep and waking. It isn't intended as a criticism - in fact this mode of reception worked rather well - but it probably isn't the response the artists were aiming for.
The Guardian celebrates the solstice by publishing an interview with Susan Cooper; further evidence of my inadequacy, since I failed to love The Dark is Rising as a child. I should try again.
It isn't intended as a criticism - in fact this mode of reception worked rather well - but it probably isn't the response the artists were aiming for.
If you're going to get an unexpected side effect from opera, sleepwalking haunting really isn't the worst.
Exactly. I feel quite positive about it.
2012-12-23 07:50 am (UTC)
The Susan Cooper interview is very interesting - thank you for the link. But you can't force yourself to love books, any more than people. Not every book is for everyone.
I'm not beating myself up about it - but having discovered, since coming to LJ, how much the books are loved by people with whom I have other books in common, it's got to be worth a try...
I was fascinated to see that she'd married Hume Cronyn after Jessica Tandy died.
2012-12-24 09:10 am (UTC)
Yes, it sounds...complicated.
I loved The Dark is Rising, to the point where I memorized a lot of the poems in it, but I also learned a lot of the poems in The Jungle Book. Novels with poetry were a delight of my childhood.
It had poems? I'd completely forgotten that!
When the Dark comes rising,
Six shall turn it back.
Three from the circle,
Three from the track.
Wood, bronze, iron,
Fire, water, stone,
Five will return
And one go on alone.
That's the only one I remember, though I remember bits from the others. "All shall find the light at last, silver on the tree.", "<something from the Greenwitch, lost beneath the sea" (probably the line before the previous one).