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<<  -- 3 --  Roderic Dunnett    A HAUNTING FUTURE


Some found the 1940s -- or early 50s -- setting impractical : as if the reactions to the ghosts, and to boundary-crossing relationships, were both somehow out of place in a 'later' age. I find that hard to accept. Given Daphne du Maurier could write in the 1930s, and Susan Hill in the 1960s, it is not hard to recall that Victorian attitudes survived the Second World War. One reason why Piper (born in 1911) and Britten (born in 1913) found it so easy to enter that world because it was one they themselves could recall.

William Sheldon proved nearly, but not quite, a Miles : he generated a fledgling character of his own, and his teaming with Megan Kelly's at times shrillish Flora worked to advantage; the small-boyish voice is thin, but always lucid ('Does my uncle think what you think?'), and his enunciation excellent; he lacks, as yet, the savant awareness of canny Samuel Burkey, impishly inquisitive Edward Burrowes or suavely refined Jonathan Darbourne -- three notable recent Mileses for, respectively, ENO, the Royal Opera and Broomhill.

Peter Quint and Miles (William Sheldon). Photo © Clive Barda
Peter Quint and Miles (William Sheldon). Photo © Clive Barda

Yet David Fielding fed in some nice touches : the way Miles's 'malo' ditty has to be prised out with difficulty fitted the younger boy perfectly. Quint's 'Miles' call is less seductive, more a wake up call -- to misbehaviour, knowledge, adulthood. Unlike Bostridge's audibly lascivious, visually tactile Quint (for Warner), hovering over the inescapably sexy Burrowes, or Sean Bartels's skinhead bruiser (for Broomhill), faced by Darbourne's shrewdly available, controlling Miles, Quint (rightly, here) is nowhere near touching his idol. He hovers, while emergent clarinet and subtle strings do the communicating for him. 'The soft persuasive word' is almost whispered. As with the Prologue ('Poor lit-tle things'; 'ev-er-y-thing') Lloyd Roberts has a fine line in syllabic utterance.

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Copyright © 15 September 2002 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK


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