It has not been an altogether popular production, not least with the huffy Glyndebourne reactionaries who have found plenty to be affronted about in this raunchy, grotty vision of Janácek’s world.
Perhaps, the best way of approaching Conrad’s book is to regard it primarily as a meditation on creativity. As with opera itself, where passion and empathy lead, intellectual appreciation will follow. The key insight of this fine book is easy enough to grasp. In an age of strutting nationalism, both Verdi and Wagner gave the world music that ultimately transcends the limits of borders or political ideology, regardless of how subsequent regimes used it.
For its world premiere of Heart of a Soldier at San Francisco Opera, the creators chose to concentrate on the personal story of Morgan Stanley’s security head Rick Rescorla, whose actions led over 2,700 World Trade Center South Tower workers to safety, only to lose his own life when he reentered the building to search for stragglers. The opera focuses on his journey from childhood in Cornwall, England, to his role in the tragic events on 9/11. An exploration of a life that culminated in those heroic actions is a story worth examining.
Unfortunately, it was poorly told.
Glyndebourne: one of the names in the British calendar. Up there with Wimbledon, Henley and other occasions which involve large quantities of strawberries being consumed in extremely specific clothing. With the added attraction of some of the best opera in the world.
Anna Nicole zipped herself up in a bodybag, surrounded by a crowd of camera-headed creatures which had been stalking her all the way through the second act, peering at her and sorting through piles of rubbish on the stage. The sudden blackout at the end produced a pause, then elated applause.