MONICA McCABE tells the story of the collaboration
between David Bintley and John McCabe
The creative partnership between the choreographer David Bintley and
my husband, the composer John McCabe began on a sunny spring day in early
May in the garden of our then house in West London -- and neither of them
knew about it.
I had been urging John for some time that he should be writing for ballet.
Only the opportunity was missing -- though he had in 1975 written the music
for a full-length ballet about Mary, Queen of Scots, for Scottish Ballet,
and two years earlier a chamber ballet for the Northern Dance Theatre. Mary,
Queen of Scots received quite a lot of performances, but the music had
been severely cut about, as a result of changes in the scenario, and despite
our great liking and admiration for the choreographer Peter Darrell, writing
it had not been entirely satisfactory as a musical experience. John's other
ballet, The Teachings of Don Juan, based on the then best-selling
book by Carlos Castaneda, was more experimental, including an on-stage singer,
and has once been revived, very successfully, by a semi-professional group
in more recent years.
However, much music which John had written since these two works convinced
me that he was a natural writer for the stage, and I toyed with several
ideas over the years. On this occasion, as I've said, neither John nor David
played a part in the first stages of their relationship. The main protagonists
were, as it happens, myself, a may-tree and T H White. It was a glorious
warm day, and I was sitting in the garden, re-reading The Once and Future
King, and casting admiring glances at the may-tree, which was then in
full bloom, and a froth of cascading white blossom.
Copyright © 17 April 2001
Monica McCabe, Kent, UK
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