This isn’t rocket science. Poetry isn’t written to be read. It’s written to be said. There is nothing like listening to the poet himself but that’s not to say that others can’t do a brilliant job. I can’t imagine McGough being better done than by Mitchell, for example.
Here Rampling held the audience in rapt attention for an hour, her words interspersed with segments of Benjamin Britten performed by Sonia Wieder-Atherton. I was in at least two minds about how this would work, and I could imagine it being dreadful, but this was a triumph. The transitions were seamless, the music such a match that I found myself wondering if it had been written for the words. In fact Ariel was first published 1965, and the cello suite No. 1, Op. 72 premiered the same year.
I don’t understand why I can see no reference to this being performed in the UK or other Anglo-Saxon countries. It is in English and is playing to packed houses in French-speaking areas. Surely it will get to the UK at some point and I have to say GO TO IT. It is just terrific and the audience wouldn’t let Rampling and Wieder-Atherton go until they’d come back for five curtain calls, at which point, in an elegant way, Rampling dismissed us.
Smug note to self: It was cheaper to see it in Geneva that in Paris. Yay.