|Clytemnestra (Mrs Agamemnon)|
It should go without saying that the BBC is, despite the bias we mainly focus on here, still capable of producing many a delight and a few fair wonders.
My non-work/non-ITBB recreation time this week (of which there was quite a bit) included listening, despite myself, to last week's Drama on 3 on Radio 3: Iphigenia in Crimea - Tony Harrison's gripping take on Euripides's Iphigenia in Tauris. I stuck with it and, in the end, thoroughly enjoyed it.
No dumbing-down there then from BBC Radio 3.
And from there I used YouTube to explore Tony Harrison's most famous interpretation of Greek tragedy - the utterly spellbinding National Theatre Oresteia he re-imagined from the greatest of Greek playwrights, Aeschylus, with Sir Peter Hall's direction and Sir Harrison Birtwistle's music, broadcast in the 1980s by Channel 4.
I'd never seen it before, but it's what Wagner would have called 'Gesamtkunstwerk' (total art work), and I will admit to having become quite obsessed by it...
...despite the slightly jolting fact that Baldrick from Blackadder (Sir Tony of Robinson) is a prominent - and very recognisable - member of the chorus. So here's how I heard it:
Chorus Member 1: Clytemnestra, we come to you as we would to our clan-chief.
Chorus Member 2: It is right that we honour the wife of the clan-chief when the man-lord himself's not here on the throne-stone.
Chorus Member 3: Is it good news or firm news?
Chorus Member 4: Or merely a cunning plan? I've got a cunning plan, my lady.
Clytemnestra: Like mother, like daughter. May last night's good news give birth this dawn-light to a day like her mother. What I've got to tell you is beyond what you'd hoped for...
Chorus Member 4: A turnip, my lady?
Clytemnestra: The Greek armies have taken the city of Priam.
Chorus Member 3: Taken Troy? Did my ears hear you right?
Chorus Member 1: My eyes fill with tears, tears of sheer joy.
Chorus Member 4: I'll get a little turnip of my own.
Clytemnestra: The cycle is broken and hope starts to happen, and a life-lot that's lucky gets crowned with the laurels.