In a Mortal Kombat of snark, Opera Chic's Uncle Normy aka Norman Lebrecht interviews Sir Jonathan Miller, opera's favorite neurologist, for the "Evening Standard". Miller is working on a Brassai-inspired "Bohème" for ENO.
A few choice quotes:
“Put Rosenkavalier in 1911, when it was written, and you suddenly hear the shot in Sarajevo. The Marschallin goes around the house trying to stop the clocks. It's not because she's old — she's 35 — it's because she knows the old world is finished. Octavian will die on the first day at the front.”
“Two things I can't bear about opera,” he volunteers. “I can't bear that Zeffirelli-esque, picturesque historical kitsch, which seems to me to be just sedentary tourism on the part of the audience. And on the other hand I can't bear what has infected England which is a German Konzept-regie where you disfigure it, make it interesting in order to show there's a director at work. It's fraudulent rubbish.”
There's also a tasty little Shakespeherian anecdote re: Sir Laurence Olivier and his love for, quote unquote, "the Hebrews".
A little video of Miller talking about the pitfalls of Bohème:
Now, one of the cool things that happen to you when you move to Europe is that you start rethinking the whole clear-cut "genius vs charlatan" thing -- you slowly learn that the two categories are not necessarily antithetical and sometimes even partly overlap. Sir Jonathan seems to be an example of such a phenomenon.