Alex Massie

Department of Calumny

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Patrick Appel, standing in for Andrew while the Boss Man takes a break, has the audacity to nominate Terry Teachout for one of Mr Sullivan's "Poseur Alert Nominee" awards. Yikes! What has the urbane Mr Teachout written to deserve such teasing? Why only this:

"I know how it feels to see the design for the dust jacket of a book that I've written, but that's different: the cover is not the book. An opera, on the other hand, truly exists only in performance, and must be created anew each time it is produced: the score is not the show. As I saw how Hildegard had transformed my libretto into a three-dimensional object, a Biblical phrase popped into my mind: Thus the word was made as flesh."

If one were to fault Mr Teachout - and I do not mean to - one might say that, far from being a poseur or a pseud, he is in danger of merely stating the obvious. Anyone who hasspent any time in the theatre a a director or producer or actor - far less as the author - knows that there's a vast difference between having the words on the page and seeing them performed, in the same way that an actor's performance in rehearsal is a far cry from the real thing. You may know the lines, but they dn't really live (or, on occasion, alas, die) until there's an audience. Equally, for sure, the lines are different each night, even if notionally, they remain the same. In that respect, since the theatre, like the opera, is a living, ever-changeable beast, the word is indeed made as flesh. And remade every night.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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