Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Sound of Music !!!

A bit of a break really , having seen the Sound of Music I can vouch for the brilliance of Connie Fisher and the strength of the whole production. This week there has been a lot about paedophiles in the news . The absurd BA ban on men sitting next to children . The publication of names on the web and Michael Jackson .After being booed of stage he says he`ll never sing in public again . If only we had known it was that easy .

Lets forget all that and remind ourselves of innocence and hope . The Sound of Music is a show you have to take on its own terms . If you are able to do so the rewards are considerable

We think of it as something that's just there; overly sentimental and , those worst crimes against the modern (in)- sensibility, light , comic , poetic and sophisticated. It opened on Broadway in 1959 and, I would guess , was the last show of the incomparable duo R and H. There is an elegiac delicacy about it that is absolutely not what you expect Few big numbers for the coach party , but music scenery character and story knitted almost magically
It is strongly thematic .Music , life and the Hills of Austria are the subject of the arresting overture stating the main symbols, that will gather meaning. In the Nunnery Maria is, significantly, still out on the mountain ,, she is a "problem" , but Maria "makes me laugh" . The moral centre of the story is the Abbess, and in the show ,shorn of the need for cluttering reality ,the importance of the Nuns is more to the fore than one expects . The abbess sends her to find ,"Her dream "., to find herself In the house of the Von Trapps she meets a bereaved man ,distant from his children and headed for a marriage he feels would be "appropriate", with a Viennese sophisticate . She is everything that Maria is not She is rich , knowing and glamorous , but she cannot speak to the children and she does not know the mountains of Austria in her heart . Typically she is treated kindly as a divided character who seeing the nobility of Von Trapp , but unable to share it .Crucially she makes an accommodation with the Nazis. The Captain cannot
Maria rediscovers the Von Trapp music and through the course of some of the best songs. "Doe a deer .." , "favourite things" , reawakens the family through musical fun . Half childlike herself she and the children create a new hope, "When you know the notes to sing , you can sing most everything " This is music that does not advertise its complexity it appears to flow from the situation . The captain joins the life that Maria has brought
She dances with Von Trapp , a much older man than her , and says ."Its different to when you are girl isn't it ". All is decided , "lets ask the children". She returns ,once more, to the nunnery , now a woman ,and they are married.
Max the impecunious social butterfly ,who provides a cynical counterpoint , has mischeviosuly arranged that they appear in Salzburg for the folk festival . With the Nazi threat looming, Captain Von Trapp is offered a commission , and cannot refuse it outright . They must escape . He agrees to go as the newly invented ,Von Trapp family singers . They win the competition with Edelweiss. Edelweiss is the national flower of Austria and the song articulates mourning for its loss to the fascist jackboot . The children play their part ,with a comic orchestration of their play songs . Max finally shows the goodness we suspected ,and , by sacrificing himself ,allows them to escape to the nunnery.
Evil shows its dark face, as the family hide from stalking soldiers silhouetted in the moon light .Lisel , who herself is "sixteen going on seventeen" , sees Rolf , her first love for the last time as he redeems himself by passing the family by. Another passing from childhood to adulthood .
Then how will they escape , what can save them ? The roads are blocked .They must go to the mountains .
Finally the forces of good combine. The Nuns and the children climb through the night , the mountain protects them as the Nunnery had .The last tableau is of the iconic group looking down on Switzerland . The bright dawn is rising. The show builds to this end which coincides with the reprise of "Climb every mountain " . Not the strongest song in the show but its placement is powerful. With all the threads tied ,and Leslie Garret on hand as the Abbess ,to give it some serious welly , the happy ending is entirely satisfying.
I would argue that the American wave was the cultural fact of the last century , that Rogers and Hammerstein are the best exponents of its most distinctive form .In this their swan song they created the most complete work of art ,bar none ,in the last hundred years . It is as perfect as Pride and Prejudice . It will last forever .


Justin Hinchcliffe said...

Camp watching, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Bloody hell! All the work writing that review and all you get is a crap comment like that! How is it standing for mayor by the way - I thought it was going to be Boris Johnson?

Anonymous said...

Don't like music meself by the way

newmania said...

It was only a protest and i can`t get it off the blog someone else set it up . I `ll let you know anyway


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