Saturday, 31 October 2015

Halloween: spooky and ghostly operas

After the Lighthouse last Saturday, I started wondering on just how much supernatural there is in opera. So many plots hinge upon it, that narrowing down suitable listening or watching for Halloween  is rather difficult. Plenty of inspiration for fancy-dress costumes too.
Ghosts feature prominently in a number of pretty mainstream ones. Where would Don Giovanni or Macbeth be without there unwelcome dinner guests? The Dutchman too is probably best disguised as a ghost, but he may properly belong to some other category of the living-deprived community. There is a ghost too in The Turn of the Screw.  Damnation At the end of Don Giovanni, our protagonist is sent to hell – dragged down to hell by a ghost in fact; the same happens unsurprisingly in the Damnation de Faust.
Reanimation. With the magic of the stage, those who die don’t necessarily need to stay dead. The Orpheus is a staple of the operatic repertoire, and it would be exhausting to list them here. Birtwistle’s Cure is a good bet too on the coming-back-to-life side of things.
There is of course plenty of opportunity for gore using theatrics: that Met production of Parsifal is about as much blood as you might hope to see on stage; there is plenty of blood in Salome, and The Coronation of Poppea.
Potions frequently feature as a magical plot device. For sorrow Tristan wouldn’t work without potions, and neither would the Ring; in joy, neither would L’Elisir d’Amore, - it hardly seems quite right for Halloween.

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