Mise Tales Fourteen

Mise Tales Fourteen


For an update on what a Mise Tale is then please see Mise Tales One.

A Lighthouse Opera?

I had never heard of a lighthouse opera until now, and being not a fan of operas, I was a bit skeptical as well. OK, I found a Youtube video of The Lighthouse, an opera by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and I am not impressed. This is a short ten (10) minute cut from the opera.

[media url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4FX5Dd7k-o” width=”400″ height=”350″]
October 12, 2012 – Now, I came across another review in The Telegraph of a different performance by the English Touring Opera. The comments were:

Few instances of that staple mystery, the unexplained maritime vanishing (as in the Mary Celeste or the Bermuda Triangle) can be more baffling than that of the three keepers who dematerialised without trace from their lighthouse in the Hebrides in 1900.
Peter Maxwell Davies’s fictionalised reconstruction of this tale has been hugely successful since its premiere in 1980, and one can soon hear why. Perhaps nobody since Britten has so masterfully used music to create atmosphere – not just a subtle spookiness, but also a marvellously vivid seascape evoking the lurch of the waves, the salt in the spray, the cawing of the gulls. All these moods and colours are brilliantly realised in superb playing by the Aurora Orchestra, conducted by Richard Baker.

Another review from the artsdesk.com said:

Confinement is a thread running through English Touring Opera’s autumn season. . . . in The Lighthouse, it is one room with curved walls and the interminable wait for the relief ship.

[spoiler title=”. . . more” open=”0″ style=”1″]

This 1979 chamber opera by Peter Maxwell Davies, who also wrote the libretto, is based on real events: in 1900 a supply ship stopping at the lighthouse on a tiny Outer Hebridean island found it in good shape but deserted, with no sign of its three keepers. The first half of the opera dramatises a board of inquiry, in which the three officers who found the abandoned lighthouse give evidence on what they found – the details are hazy, but an open verdict is returned. For the second half, the officers are transformed into the lighthouse keepers, and we bear witness to their gradual descent into madness as the foghorn sounds, the mist creeps in and their nightmares edge reality out.

In this world of oilskin and shadows everything is geared towards a murky atmosphere

A genuinely Poesque denouement (no spoilers ahead) suggests that the composer could have had a side career as a macabre mystery writer.

Musically, it may be a little hard to love. By the time of the opera’s composition, eight years of Orkney air had blown the arch-modernism out of Davies’ music, but we are still dealing with a fairly cold and abstract sound world. We see the composer working with a fine paintbrush, creating sparse textures with little sustained forward motion. The diverse instrumentation eschews the comfort of a familiar orchestral sound, throwing up snippets of guitar, crotales, flexatone, jangly out of tune piano. A deafening climax, when it comes, is all the more surprising. It may not be emotional music, but it is certainly atmospheric, and it is easy to see why The Lighthouse maintains a position in the repertory (four separate productions international this year alone).

The three men, Adam Tunnicliffe (Sandy), Nicholas Merryweather (Blazes) and Richard Mosley-Evans (Arthur), sing strongly and bring off the acting too. The poisonous chemistry between them – “All too close in this prison to keep any secrets” – is what the drama hinges on, and they do extremely well in rubbing each other up the wrong way.

Overall it is a very satisfying piece of theatre which this production (designed by Neil Irish and directed by Ted Huffman) gets the absolute best out of. No arbitrary updating here: in this world of oilskin and shadows, everything, from lighting to costumes via the characters’ chain smoking, is geared towards a murky atmosphere, entirely faithful to the piece.


You decide. I only post it for reference as a lighthouse related item fit for Misc Tales – not because I like it.

More information here from the Guardian.


 Top 10 Haunted Lighthouses

I thought I would get this one posted for Halloween. I wanted to do the whole article, but have not been given permission yet.

1. Owls Head Light, Owls Head, Maine
Owls Head Light State Park, open year-round, provides lovely views of Penobscot Bay. The pretty little lighthouse and keeper’s residence are part of the park but not accessible, though that doesn’t prevent a ghost from trespassing. The 3-year-old daughter of previous keepers once awakened her parents and announced, “Fog’s rolling in! Time to put the foghorn on!” They discovered she had an “imaginary friend” who resembled an old sea captain. Current residents recognize his footprints in the snow and welcome his services―polished brass and frugally lowered thermostats; 207/941-4014 or lighthouse.cc/owls. In nearby Rockland, the Maine Lighthouse Museum displays the country’s largest collection of Fresnel lenses; 207/594-3301 or mainelighthousemuseum.com.

For numbers 2 to 10 please see the website.


 We don’t hear about ‘phantom ships’ now

The floating island of tsunami debris drifting towards our coast reminds us of the power of wind and current.

There have been many sightings of derelict ships along our brooding shores. Since the advent of engine power and electronic/satellite navigation, however, the toll of casualties has drastically declined and we don’t hear about “Flying Dutchmen” these days. . . more


 [media url=”http://vimeo.com/51740646″ width=”400″ height=”350″]

 The above is called The Lighthouse by Gary Bird. It is the “rough-cut of part of a TV show opener – After Effects + Element 3d; Lighthouse model: Turbosquid; Background image: Flickr; Music: Soundcloud.

A well-done introduction. I hope the TV show is as good!


This next was a question posed on answers.yahoo.com. I tried to find out more but there are only a couple of five (5) second blasts from the film on Youtube – nothing else anywhere. If anyone does know where to find a copy of the film, please let me know, or drop an answer on the yahoo page mentioned above. Thanks.

“RL Stines: The Haunted Lighthouse” Sea World San Diego CA?

My cousin loved this movie, and they stopped showing it at the theme park. Ive looked all over but cant find any copies of it. Anyone know where i can find it? It would make a great birthday present for her.
Thanks in advance!


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Retired (2001) British Columbia lighthouse keeper after 32 years on the lights.

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