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Quarry in full flight

Nico Muhly
English National Opera, until December 3
Reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement, 24 November
Sasha Cooke in Marnie at the London Coliseum. Photo: Tristram Kenton The best line in Alfred Hitchcock’s film Marnie (1964) comes after the newly- wed heroine’s suicide attempt in the swimming pool of her honeymoon cruise liner. Why didn’t she simply jump overboard? “The idea was to kill myself”, comes the bone-dry answer, quick as a flash, “not feed the damn fishes.” Not only has she mastered the sang-froid of her current mark (named Mark, as it happens), but the line reveals the razor-sharp edges of her character when under the threat of introspection. She has been raped and rescued, against her will, from drowning – and yet the shutters come down, escape routes are planned, and all lines of enquiry abruptly cut off. The demand to reflect on her motives is painful; she flinches and runs into the oblivion of instinct. The most apposite line in this Marnie – a new opera by …

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