Carmen from the wings

The BBC had a good Carmen on Radio 3 last week. I listened to it last Saturday evening whilst sitting at my computer working. (Well, that’s my story, anyway). Opera works quite well on radio. Nice music, and as we all know, the pictures are better on the radio than the telly.

However, this ENO production had a extra bonus – once performed you could see it online in a realplayer window for seven days. Not a bad offer, though to be honest, I’d rather have seen it on BBC 4 or some similar erudite place. Any time of day or night would have done as I could have recorded it. I watched some of the webcast. Seeing the over the top dancing did in fact add something to the experience.

However, there was a twist. With a click of the mouse, you could see the same production from the wings, backstage. Now, the thing is, is it a good thing to see everything? It is part of the whole death of deference that I referred to in a comment to a previous post. Do we think we need to see everything from every angle to understand it? Does seeing it from the wings enhance or compromise what the director wanted me to see?

Watching just a bit of the backstage view, I realised that it went further than I want to go. I want the magic. I want it done to me sometimes. I want my gaze to participate in the production. I don’t want to intrude backstage on those who are offering me their all and I don’t want to know if it is not their all they are offering. Let me sit pinned to my chair (or my pew) by what someone else has planned and murmur in my heart, Lord, I believe, help thou my suspension of disbelief.


  1. Elizabeth says

    A week already? Bother. Saw the notification, meant to listen/watch all week. Haven’t. Sigh. (previous five sentences describe phd-student life generally, I suspect, lack of grammar included).

  2. Imagine if our little flocks could see behind the scenes at church on a Sunday morning. Would they be surprised to see the thurifer on his/her knees blowing frantically on the charcoal, swinging the thurible through 360 degrees to get it going? Would they be surprised to see the MC rummaging through the pile of paper looking for that Collect which has just been asked for? Would they be surprised to see the Altar Servers giggling and larking around before processing out sedately?

    These things are best left unseen too, I suspect.

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