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Lon­don Coli­seum Un­til Dec 7 Per­for­mance Stag­ing

The won­der is not that it is done well but that it is done at all. So sniffed Dr John­son at a spec­ta­cle of which he dis­ap­proved. I feel the same about this staged War Re­quiem, de­spite the out­stand­ing qual­ity of much of the mu­sic-mak­ing.

Brit­ten’s War Re­quiem, com­mis­sioned for the open­ing of Sir Basil Spence’s Coven­try Cathe­dral in 1962, has come to be re­garded as the ul­ti­mate me­mo­rial to the hor­ror of mech­a­nised war, and the ne­ces­sity for a civilised so­ci­ety to com­mem­o­rate sac­ri­fice.

Brit­ten took the view that there should be no ap­plause at the end, just silent con­tem­pla­tion of all that had tran­spired, a wish ob­served at the pre­miere. He would have been hor­ri­fied at the end of the first night here. The pro­duc­tion team sashayed on to wild ap­plause as if they had just pre­sented Die Fle­d­er­maus. A sur­title said record­ing the cur­tain calls was fine. An­other sent best wishes to the au­di­ence: ba­nal­ity raised to the sta­tus of high art.

No rev­er­ence, no time for re­mem­brance, or for re­flec­tion

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