Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Jacques Coulardeau and Paul Bunyan at Academia.edu (62)
from wilderness to consumer's society
the project going on right now to cover the figure of the stranger in Benjamin
Britten's operas I have reached the first opera after many more I have studied
before. This one is more a manifesto, musical and political, on Auden and
Britten's side than a purely evanescent "entertainment neither true nor
beautiful nor witty."
The revival version though has cut off two essential scenes. But what is
important here is the fact that Bunyan reaches both the level of the epic hero
of a picaresque adventure and that of a myth, a legend, a folkloric character
that becomes universal in his all-encompassing historical vision of his
conquest of the west, like in a way the Chinese Monkey of the Buddhist Journey
to the West.
Is teh stranger, teh eternal guest as he calls himself, that Bunyan is in our
world an ideal, a prophet, a guru, or just a friend to accompany our dreams of
a better world?
The figure of the stranger in Benjamin Britten's
operas is more and more a stranger from outside that completely perturbs the
status quo of where he arrives, or a stranger from inside that makes one
confront his or her real circumstances or real deeper self. Too often it has
been associated with Benjamin Britten's sexual orientation and in this case his
collaboration with Auden increases the tendency especially since it is about an
all-male environment in which there is ONLY one woman, and also one dog and two
cats, all of them sung by women as Auden notes in his introduction to the
libretto.. Yet I feel that it would be a mistake to consider the question only,
first of all or in any priority way as having to do with Benjamin Britten's
sexual orientation, just as much of a mistake as connecting his approach of the
American conquest of the West with his dentist of a father whose drill he would
try to run away from.