Monday, March 07, 2011


The only reason I got a mini-subscription to BAM this spring was that I desperately wanted to see Derek Jacobi in Lear, and you had to buy tickets to four different shows in order to qualify for the special early advance-purchase set-up that would ensure I got the tickets to the one show I really desperately wanted; I picked the others more or less at random, without much investigation, and the thing that sold me on The Nightingale and Other Short Fables was just the basic attractions of Stravinsky and Hans Christian Andersen plus the mention, in the brief description on the website, of a twelve-thousand-gallon on-stage water-tank. (I am a sucker for aquatic spectacle!)

When I read the Times review, though, I knew that it really was going to be something special, and in fact I would have to say it is one of the most absurdly lovely things I have ever experienced. The loveliness of the voice of the Nightingale (it is the most beautiful music, absolutely otherworldly and perfectly performed in this case too) plus the extraordinary fluttery nightingale puppet, the massive skeleton that rises out of and really directly from the emperor's bed, dozens of other details - everything about it was utterly delightful!

My absolute favorite bit of all was the "Berceuses du chat" in the first half - they are doing the most extraordinary things with shadow puppetry! All I can say that if I were a young person with even the most moderate professional interest in this sort of thing, I would buy a plane ticket and show up on the doorstep of Philippe Beau and just stay there until he promised to teach me everything he knew....

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