Purely in the spirit of research, you understand, I went to see some Britten last night: the opening night of ENO's Turn of the Screw, accompanied by Nathalie, who was quickest off the mark in snapping up my free spare ticket that I announced at last Thursday's rehearsal.
And there's good news. After a succession of turkeys from ENO recently (Carmen, Poppea) that should have been culled swifter than an H5N1-infested gaggle at a Bernard Matthews factory, their Turn of the Screw is absolutely brilliant.
I won't say too much more here until my review goes up on the Sky Arts website, but do go and see it. It's really heartening to see ENO back on top form. Unlike the tepid, polite spatter of applause that greeted Carmen or Poppea, this got a thoroughly deserved rainstorm of appreciation, particularly for Rebecca Evans (the Governess), who tackled a tough role with outstanding style and musicality, especially in the second half. (The kids were irritatingly good, too.)
It was interesting to listen to this - a work I knew vaguely from CD but not from live - with Grimes, whose music we all, ahem, know inside out now. Obviously the same composer: some startling linear and harmonic similarities - when the kids start singing in Screw, it's clearly almost-the-the same music as the Nieces from the storm scene in Grimes. And the same overarching themes of emotional claustrophobia, innate evil, suspicion, dark goings-on, and of course absolutely no warmth or good old-fashioned romantic love and still less any shagging. It hardly suggests all was comfy in Ben's head: I hope he got a kiss and cuddle and felt guilt-free and good about physical love on at least some occasions.
It was full, too. Just behind us in the audience was Alice Coote (who was Carmen in the Carmen I slammed). Luckily everything I'd said to Nat about AC while we were waiting for curtain-up was complimentary.