A Japanese living in London writes anything about everyday life in UK – cafe, restaurant, design, stores, politics, news, events, art/museums, films, food, fashion, travel etc. イギリス暮らしもかれこれ10年。カフェ、レストラン、デザイン、お店、政治、ニュース、イベント、アート／美術館、映画、食、ファッション、旅行等々、ロンドンでの日常生活や、英国に関する情報を思いつくままに綴ります。
A French Post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin’s large scale exhibition “Gauguin“, exhibiting his works from around the world, runs at the Tate Modern from September 30 until January 16, 2011.
Gauguin left his job as a stockbroker and his family in his wife’s native Copenhagen, and became a full-time painter in Paris, after he began painting in his free time. He is famous for his colorful and exotic images of women in Tahiti, to where he escaped from European civilization, but the exhibition also shows a variety of works such as paintings of Brittany where he frequently visited the artist colony of Pont-Aven, religious paintings, self-portraits, and wood carvings.
Gauguin is sometimes called as a colonialist, a sexist, or even a pedophilia because he painted naked or half-naked young Tahitian girls as his favorite motif. He was also condemned that he had sexual relationship with Tahitian girls knowing that he got infected syphilis while he was in paris. It is terrible that he took a risk to infect these innocent girls, but other criticisms are a bit too harsh on him, as there was no concept that “pedophilia is bad” nor human right of a colonial among colonizers at that time he lived through.
The exhibition opens with a fanfare as a blockbuster of this year, but I was a bit disappointed because the exhibition includes many unimpressive works such as mere quick drawings and wood carvings which are rather boring without his signature colors and Polynesian would probably do better that kind of wood carvings than him. As the Daily Telegraph’s art critique mentions the risk of hanging Gauguin’s works thematically instead of chronologically, that makes it difficult for anyone who are not particularly familiar with his works to follow his stylistic development (article), the exhibition was a bit confusing for me to connect his life stage and artistic history to his actual works in front of me.
English National Opera（イングリッシュ・ナショナル・オペラ／ENO）で、ヘンデルのメサイア（Messiah）を観た。イエス・キリストの生涯を描いたオラトリオの名作・メサイアは、もともとオペラの楽曲ではないのだが、気鋭の演出家・Deborah Warner（デボラ・ワーナー）によって、現代社会を舞台に、ダンスを取り入れたユニークなオペラ作品に仕上がった。衣装も小物も現代風、時折舞台後方のスクリーンに宗教画が映されたり、キリスト教の儀式に使われる小道具が劇中に出てくる程度で、キリストの物語にも関わらず宗教色は強くない。ティーンエイジャーの妊娠はマリアの処女懐胎、天使が羊飼いにキリスト降誕を告げる場面は、お遊戯会で子供たちがその場面を演じる形に、キリストの磔刑シーンは、若者の喧嘩に変えるなど、原作と繋がりを持たせようとしているが、ちょっと無理があるかも。キリスト教の学校に行っていたので、ある程度の知識はあるのだが、舞台上で起こってることと音楽とどう繋がりがあるのか分からず、後でタイムズ紙のレビューを読んで、ああそういうことだったのかと得心した。
We saw Handel‘s Messiah at the English National Opera (ENO). Messiah was not written for opera, but the director Deborah Warner transforms this oratorio masterpiece into an unique opera work, setting in modern urban life and taking in dance elements. The opera seems to reduce religion to a minimum – costumes and stage sets are modern, except the religious arts occasionally projected on screens and some ceremonial objects used in some scenes. The director tries to make a connection between the original story and this opera, but the attempt unfortunately doesn’t not really work well and quite cheesy: the Virgin Birth becomes teenage pregnancy, the meeting of shepherds and angels is turned into a school nativity play, and Christ’s scourging and Crucifixion translate into a fight among youths. I went to a Protestant school and know a bit about the life of Jesus Christ, but I barely understood the relationship between the music and what was going on on the stage. I figured out the meaning of some scenes after I came back home and read the review by the Times.
The biggest problem for me was the kids in the opera – I know it is not their fault but it was just annoying. A 6 year-old boy was almost always on the stage, walking around, running or sitting down, and it was very distracting. The scene of school play was really irritating as well, except a song by a boy with beautiful clear voice: the kids jumped up and down and the parents took a pictures or filmed with camcorders. It is reported that the opera uses 44 extras other than singers, including dancers. Some people just stand up or lie down – is it really necessary to put useless people on the stage??
However I I like Handel and Baroque music and enjoyed the music a lot: the Handel specialist conductor Laurence Cummings led the orchestra beautifully and voices of the two female soprano and alto singers were truly graceful. The modern and simple stage sets designed by Tom Pye were interesting, such as video footage of modern society (people going up and down on an elevator, or silhouettes of moving cranes) and transparent coffins placed all over the stage at the final part. We got a ticket, original price of £71 for only £10 with Evening Standardpromotion – so it was really worth going. But I would be upset if I paid £71 for the opera…