Edward Pearce enjoyed "The House" and now wants to run Covent Gardenby Edward Pearce / April 20, 1996 / Leave a comment
Published in April 1996 issue of Prospect Magazine
Consider the BBC?s television programme, The House: a combination of documentary and soap, it also had some of the qualities of opera. It held us fast, while the bald, aggrandising and imperfectly nice Keith Cooper called on Jeremy Isaacs murmuring that a colleague was not quite on his wavelength: Iago wandering into Die Meistersinger to oil up an over-parted Hans Sachs. But much of The House was The Money Programme. “We can?t do this.” “We?re over budget.” “We need extra for that ramp.” The face of Tessa Blackstone at those board meetings was an art form. (And it seems, since The House was made, that they have overshot again by the odd ?2m.)
But chiefly The House is a provocation. Jeremy Isaacs has a line which says: “Look, this thing is hellishly difficult. Yes, it costs a lot, but it has to. That?s the price one pays for our being wonderful. Anyway, if you?re so clever, you do it.”
Let?s do just that. My objections to Covent Garden fall into two categories: cash and art. They use money for origami and give power to despotic little aesthetes-on-horseback who stage conceptual productions which should not be allowed.
The saddest thing was the little conductor from Canada brought in for Massenet?s Ch?rubin, humbly seeking instruction from a languid director after the star Russian conductor had, quite rightly, walked out over directorial intrusion. My response is to write up in flaming capitals: Prima la musica!
The next is to demote the director. Mos…