My Splendid Isolation: Deborah Warner – 'I'd like to take a break from opera and listen to birdsong'

The opera director is planning to immerse herself in poetry, take up the piano and rewatch Succession

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Deborah Warner (left) with actress Fiona Shaw
Deborah Warner (left) with actress Fiona Shaw Credit: Matthew Andrews

What I’m watching

We don’t have a TV, but we have a projector trained on the biggest wall in the house. News comes up big but, like many people, I’m going to try to limit its persistent presence.

Plans include a repeat viewing of the sublime and unrivalled Succession. For anyone who has yet to see this series, it’s unmissable.

Yes, the characters are terrible people; yes, this is a searing and uncomfortable portrait of the mess of a world we have made; but what lifts the spirits and shines bright is the exquisite quality of the acting and the sublime writing.

What I’m listening to

There is a silence in the world overhead as planes stop, as well as spring bursting forth with the attendant glorious amplification of birdsong. Whether you’re in London, or the country, it’s all go outside.

I’m going to take the earphones out sometimes, stop listening to the operas I should be working on, and just listen. Nature is carrying on with all her might, oblivious to our present challenges.

'Sublime and unrivalled': TV drama Succession Credit: HBO

What I’m reading

We were expecting to fly to India a few days ago, so we’re trying not to imagine our steps as they would have been, and not opening the pile of travel books still lying on the table. I’ve a poetry-based project coming up for the Manchester International Festival, so I’ve the bonus of a house loaded with poetry books and much more time than I expected.

Poetry isn’t to be rushed, and busy lives can easily push that reading time aside, so this enforced slowdown does seem like an opportunity. Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes’s unrivalled The Rattle Bag remains an essential, the ultimate anthology both in terms of its delicious and personal selection and its inspired arrangement within the pages.

The hobby I’ve taken up

Hoping that Amazon will deliver the theory and learning books, I’m planning on picking up the piano where I left off, which – shockingly – was back in 1972, or thereabouts. Don’t expect a Wigmore Hall debut come the autumn.

The thing that made me laugh recently

Comedians haven’t necessarily hit it yet, but the joy of the “short” is winning, and my best video so far goes roughly like this. On screen, close-up on an earnest and intent interviewee, while off-camera a serious-voiced interviewer asks: “Because of coronavirus you have to be quarantined, but you have a choice. Would you a) stay home with your wife and child? or b)...

Interviewee: “b” (hesitates); then again. “Definitely ‘b’.”

What I can’t wait to do once this is over

Get into a rehearsal room for the launch of my inaugural season as artistic director at the Ustinov Studio, Bath.