Recently there was a little pro and contra re the staging of Bizet’s opera Carmen. Should it be re-enacted in its original setting, which was a cigarette factory? And should the heroine – a pioneer female libertarian – smoke on stage, as per the original directions? I have very personal reasons to be down on Sir Walter Raleigh – or was it Francis Drake – who should be burned in effigy every bonfire night, if there is still such an institution, but there is a very simple solution that would have saved many buffs from getting hot under the collar.
Respected precedents could be observed while remaining ideologically sound and perhaps speaking more directly and concisely to the modern audience. An ideal and highly regarded model is that of the Spike Jones And The City Slickers version which is set in a bubble gum factory. The constant popping of gum enlivens the music and adds another level of texture. Excitement is heightened by the wild accelerations of the orchestra (lunch break overdue perhaps?) and the erratic veering and climbing, as though drunk, of the soprano, who finally wobbles like a satellite losing its orbit and shoots straight up beyond human hearing. The whole is brought to a highly satisfactory resolution with an explosion (as if all the bubble gum was popped at once) – a familiar Jones gambit that always works. A critical and box office success guaranteed. Ticks all the boxes.