I attended "The Cure" and "The Corridor" by modern composer Harrison Birtwistle last night at the Linbury Theatre, Covent Garden Opera House. It is a very nice space.
I still cannot fathom how modern music lost its way, after centuries of what D H Lawrence despised as 'Christian music' and sank itself, for a hundred years, in a slough of unpleasing modernity. Harrison Birtwistle has toned down its less appealing sounds - though his compositions are still very repetitive. The libretto by poet David Harsent was lively and interesting. The words were projected above the stage so one could follow them. The singer must remember them perfectly!
The post modern themes were predictable: loss of youth, self and identity, death, dying, witchcraft and the dark arts (not unlike modern genetic manipulation), quick fixes that do not work. The stories are entirely pagan - even if classically pagan.
The Corridor is about Eurydice being rescued from Hades by Orpheus who loses her, by looking back at her - rather like Lot's wife looking back at Sodom. Her consequent 'limbo' state reminded me of having ME, a kind of state between life and death. Thanks to the libretto, there were moments of recapturing my thoughts in ME, such as being a 'stranger to myself'. Eurydice also expressed being uncertain about whether she actually wanted life again - another feeling in chronic illness, when one feels too drained to cope with life's renewed coldness, demands and stresses. I even wondered whether David Harsent had experienced such a state, himself.
The Cure featured the witch and murderess, Medea, who was seeking, through moonlight herbs, salt circles, moonstones and spells to make the father of Jason young again. It reminded me of botox and plastic surgery. When her spell succeeds, Jason's father is not so sure he likes being young - again. The passion of youth - and losing it - is too much to contemplate.
The stage set for The Cure was the moon. I spent much of my time meditating on the weird Universe we live in. Modern astronomy revealing a vast, cold Universe has contributed to postmodernity that has let hold of life, meaning, faith, harmony and love.
Where does postmodern art go from witchcraft being performed live onstage, I wonder?