Off to “The Pearl Fishers” tonight; sounds like pure hokum, plot-wise, but ENO seem to be on something of a roll at the moment so I’m hoping it will be another musical treat. I wish Covent Garden were on a winning streak opera-wise, but I loathed their new “Aida” – all the more bitterly disappointing as it’s an opera I love, and David McVicar’s productions are usually intelligent and insightful.
I’ve been haunted for over week now by that “Tosca”. It took me a while to work out why it was suddenly so fresh and exciting – not just the terrific conducting and singing, and subtle acting, but over and above that the fact that it had been directed as if for someone who’d never seen it before and didn’t know the plot. Not once was there a reliance on cliché or on the audience already knowing what happens next; not once was a performer’s motivation “I have to do this because it says so in the stage directions”. So - Tosca tries to tell Cavaradossi how to “die properly” because she really believes his execution is going to be faked, and it soothes her nerves to remind him he isn’t an actor [sadly true of the singer in question]. And so - Scarpia clearly has every expectation of spending the next few months breaking Tosca’s spirit still further, and enjoying every minute of it, right up to the moment when she sticks him in the guts with his own letter-opener.
The opening chords have been ear-worming me for the last week, too. Last night I managed to get rid of them, finally, by the not-always desirable tactic of replacing them with something else. In this case, “Oh Peggy Gordon, you are my darling”… Oh well, one can’t win them all.
Just went out for my lunch break to eat my sandwich under a tree and take a stroll in the glorious hot sunshine. The Gardens are looking wonderful; but it’s half term, and I had to stop six times to say politely “I’m sorry to disturb you, but I’m afraid ball games/frisbees/roller skates/bicycles/scooters/tree-climbing are not allowed” to visitors who have not read the sign at the gate which reads “The following are not permitted – ball games, frisbees, roller skates, bicycles, scooters, tree climbing…”. If I have lunch indoors, I don’t have to do this embarrassing duty, but I don’t get the sun, either, or the irises, or the glorious sweet and pungent smells of a hot June day – dry grass, Escallonia myrtoides, linden blossom, acacia blossom, lavender... I love summer.