My review of ENO's excellent Turn of the Screw is now up on the Sky Arts website. The 'opera-singer companion' I refer to was Nat, btw.
Last Thursday's rehearsal was the usual routine of half-assed mumbling that got better as it went along, eventually reaching near-adequacy.
There were some intriguing challenges of part-division in the lynch-mob chorus ("And cruelty becomes his exercise"... etc). Challenging because we had a chorus of two tenors and a tenor line split into two parts. Which would be OK except that one of the tenors, ie me, was also trying to sing Boles. Similarly, the two-strong bass section had two parts, but one of the basses was also singing Swallow.
That scene is supposed to be one of overwhelming terror and crowd-rule, as the entire village turns to hunt down Grimes. It should have the deranged ferocity of Sudanese lynch-mob demanding execution over the name of a soft toy. That's a bit tricky when you can fit the entire men's chorus into a Smart Car.
So ladies, we look to you for violence, chaos and irrational hatred, as you did so magnificently in Carmen! That fight scene was terrific - for a moment I thought I was back at my auntie's wedding reception.
And there's that weird, brilliantly effective section at the end where everyone is almost literally baying: that extended 'Ha ha ha, ha-ha-ha-ha ha' bit right at the top of everyone's register. It's cackling, vengeful music with an evil glint in its eye. Which, I can't help thinking, was Britten's mood when he was writing it: right, tenors, you lazy bastards, let's see you get this high C-flat at the end. That'll show you what happens if you don't sing with your body.