The Week in Arts: Carry on cackling
A founder member of The Independent David Lister joined the paper in 1986 as Assistant Home Editor. He became the paper's arts correspondent in 1988 and is now Arts Editor and writes a column each Saturday. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Saturday 26 September 1998
DORIS LESSING has turned her formidable pen to opera critics, and it makes juicy reading. Ms Lessing, still apparently smarting from the mauling 10 years ago for Philip Glass's The Making Of The Representative, for which she wrote the libretto, has written a piece for the journal of the Friends of the English National Opera. She recalls: "I have never read anything so venomous, so poisonous. [Philip Glass's] experience with opera has been that critics damn a first showing of a piece, but when the next one appears they damn that, saying ... it is not as good as the last! Is is that some critics have in them a well of malice they need to empty from time to time?"
So can the ENO hail Ms Lessing as their champion? Not totally. In her next paragraph: "More than one production I have sat through with my eyes closed, unable to bear it."
CULTURE SECRETARY Chris Smith wants art taken out of the galleries and brought to the people. He is being taken at his word by textiles artist Anna Sheppard, who is putting on a display of her wall sculptures next week in Soho hairdresser, Tommy Guns Haircuts, in Beak Street. The sculptures are constructed from hairgrips, nets and rollers. Next week, the public will be allowed to view the exhibition, and no doubt to gaze at the bewildered people being shampooed.
ROYAL OPERA House chairman Sir Colin Southgate may not save quite as much money as he thinks when he closes down the Royal Opera company next year. The Royal Opera House will have to pay all the principal singers they have engaged, unless they find other work. One national opera promoter tells me: "Find an Italian tenor or his agent who will admit to another engagement when he can be paid for not singing with the Royal Opera!" I call that cynical, xenophobic and probably absolutely true.
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