Sunday, April 09, 2006

Panic in China

Haili gets in touch to tell me SYT are in a sudden panic because they don't have an "official letter of invitation", without which Zhang Ruihong can't get permission for a passport, never mind a visa. I thought I'd sent it in December, but apparently that wasn't enough. We knock together a full version containing all the letters I've sent over the months plus a few extra details. In the thick of the panic, Haili speaks directly to Zhang Ruihong, who is now taking charge of it all herself. This is good - now we know who the contact point is, and it's the artist we'll be working with. All this at the same time as the Rolling Stones play their first concert in Shanghai - and are forbidden to sing "Let's Spend the Night Together" on the grounds of corrupting public morals. I do wonder what they'll make of us as and when the show gets out there........

Luckily, I'm able to pop over and see Haili in Manchester, because I'm in Liverpool for a couple of days, teaching opera students alongside the WNO season up there. We watch Katie Mitchell's production of Jephtha with the wonderful Mark Padmore in the title role. At first glance, it looks like an attempt at a naturalistic oratorio, with masses of social detail: the generals do constant paperwork, and maids run around with cups of tea. But the naturalism coincides with mythic and dream-like images and motivations, which makes the whole thing far more complex and fascinating. As in our own work, this is about the way in which mythologies have very immediate meanings in the contemporary world. I'm excited enough to lecture spontaneously on it for an hour and a half the next morning!

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