I begin by conceding that my taste in most things to do with the Arts is highly influenced by the likes and dislikes of my parents and therefore access and experience I had growing up in London in the '70's and '80's. I like Charles M. Schulz, Magritte, Russian ballet music (but not so much the dancing), Preston Sturges, Oscar Wilde, the Beatles, German Expressionism, Dame Judi Dench, Nina Simone, Dusty Springfield, The Threepenny Opera, klezmer, Holbein, Queens Park Rangers FC, the Specials, the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy and maltesers. I appreciate wit, imagination and a touch of the macabre. I am grossed out by most comedy that pushes the envelope in the area of bodily functions (think Little Britain). Pretty average tastes really. And then I come across something like this:
"Hard day at the orifice, dear?
The focus of a new production of Le Grand Macabre is a vomiting fibreglass model. No wonder they're screaming in the aisles, says Oliver Marre
The Observer, Sunday 13 September 2009
The instruments in the orchestra pit next week at the Coliseum in London, home to the English National Opera, will include brown paper bags, planks of wood, car horns and an enormous metal saucepan. The performers will be dressed in costumes ranging from body suits in primary colours to nothing very much at all. The action will involve pretty graphic sex and very graphic violence. And the music will be by György Ligeti, most famous for the soundtrack to Stanley Kubrick's weird movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. But it is the set which is really causing a stir.
An enormous, naked, crouching woman (she's called Claudia), made of fibreglass, with enormous hanging bosoms, forms its centrepiece. Claudia will rotate, she will have parts of her peeled away as the opera progresses, revealing anatomically correct insides, and inside her bottom is a fully stocked bar, to be used for an onstage party. When this production, by the Catalan opera company La Fura dels Baus, of Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre was performed in Rome, the audience screamed abuse from the stalls. The ENO's musical director, Edward Gardner, describes the opera as "a crazy fantasy of a piece" and the production manager, Nicholas Sperling, explains how the performance will begin with film of an actress playing Claudia in a dirty flat. She falls ill; she collapses onto her hands and knees; the screen gives way as the curtain opens and there is fibreglass Claudia, 20ft high, vomiting out the first singer. This is just the first of her orifices from which someone will emerge. Ears, nose and the rest come into play as the evening progresses."
Am I getting old? All I could think of when I read this was 'what is the point?' It annoys me. It just seems like a colossal waste of time and energy. And thence the shock value. O my goodness, I am turning into a fuddy-duddy! The cool and liberal; laid-back, open and always interested image I imagined for myself is a tissue of lies! Help!!