Iphigenie auf Tauris Sadlers Wells 31 October

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The useful sheet of A4 we got with the completely uninformative programme described this both as ‘An opera by Christoph Willibald Gluck’ and ‘A dance-opera by Pina Bausch’.  And indeed singers sang from the ends of the second circle near the stage while dancers danced on it and players played in front of it.

The plot was perhaps rather complex to convey in surtitle-less German singing, and the explanation of Iphigenie dreaming both that Clytaemnestra killed Agamemnon (which has happened) and Iphigenie herself killing Orestes (which doesn’t happen) didn’t really help matters.

The dance involved quite a lot of dancers holding their arms in poses reminiscent of ancient pictures of dancing and also Thoas madly slapping himself on the arms.

At the interval, my companion asked why Orestes didn’t just say who he was (or sing or dance who he was perhaps) and let us go home an hour earlier.  I suggested various reasons, while skirting round the obvious one that recognition scenes were something that Euripides did quite well really (for a total bungler).

Towards the end, a young girl slowly strewed the kitchen table on which Orestes was to be sacrificed with flowers, and then a ladder was brought on, which procedure led to the people sitting behind us corpsing totally (though they certainly tried hard to suppress it).

I think my problem here was that there was just too much plot going on that was hard to understand…

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