DAVID MELLOR CONCERT OF THE WEEK
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