I know I need to get on with Question Three. But I want to tell you about the opera last night*, or bell ringing today**, or about what’s happening in the garden*** . . .
. . . And I’ve run out of post-space again. I’m about to break 2000 words. Which is not allowed.&
Um. I really am going to answer questions three and four. Really I am. Just not tonight. Um. Not tonight either.
* * *
* which I enjoyed, which was both pleasing in itself^ and was a tremendous relief after being hammered mercilessly, with infrequent and inadequate breaks to listen to Anna Netrebko sing, by Macbeth a week ago. This one was Luisa Miller, another early-ish Verdi, although not that early, he was about roll into his Rigoletto-Trovatore-Traviata run. It’s funny about Luisa, maybe it’s only because I don’t know it very well—it’s not one of the famous ones—but it feels earlier than it is. It sounds like Verdi, but it doesn’t sound any more like Verdi than, say, Macbeth does, which is earlier still, and Luisa is closer in years to the R-T-T explosion of amazingness, after which there’s pretty much no holding him and it’s one flamingingly breathtaking thing after another.
The three or five, depending on how you’re counting, lead singers were all terrific, although the fact that the evil Count looked like a slightly distressed schoolmaster to whom one should offer a cup of tea and a sit-down, and was totally outevilled by his henchperson who was definitely evil, was a little distracting. And for those of us who grew up with Placido Domingo it’s fascinating watching him morph into . . . whatever this decade’s persona is, which happens to be playing the baritone dads in the same operas he played the tenor true-loves in a while ago. The man is a phenomenon. Also, he can sing. I grant you his baritone hasn’t the tingle-making sweetness of his young tenor, but he’s not a pity vote either, and the dad roles he’s doing now are often the better for a little roughness. He’s playing the detestable dad in La Trav next year and yes, I’m going.^^
I could of course do some carping. Let’s start with the libretto. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH. I don’t know if, again, it’s because I don’t know this one that well, whether it’s the surely unnecessary clunkiness of the subtitle translation, or whether it really is more ridiculous than usual BUT IT’S PRETTY RIDICULOUS. I mean, it’s very ridiculous. ^^^ And while the production was the nice old-fashioned kind where what is going on more or less matches what the subtitles tell you is going on^^^^ and it’s well enough lit that you can see what’s going on . . . if that’s the Millers’ sitting room, why does it look like a PUB? And if Luisa is the village schoolteacher, why do the posters of the alphabet on the wall stop with W?^^^^^ And—no spoilers here or anything—why is she wearing her nightgown to kill herself in? And, furthermore, wearing it in her front room with ALL the villagers present who might conceivably wonder why she’s invited them all over to hang out while she’s in her nightgown?^^^^^^
Oh, and she doesn’t kill herself. That would be so obvious. No, someone else does it for her. Which is also pretty obvious. But it can’t end well. That would be unthinkable. But she and her true love have been clutching their dire secrets to their breasts for so long there is a slight feeling from certain audience members of ALL RIGHT ALREADY. GET IT OVER WITH, WILL YOU?
^ Especially at the PRICE. Good grief. You could get cheap seats in the Met theatre itself for less than it now costs to slouch in the cinema several thousand miles away and watch the singers make horrible faces in close up.
^^ One of these posts I’m going to do a rant about the unspeakableness of the local cinema’s web site. A RANT. A RAAAAAAAAAAAAANT.
^^^ STOPPING NOW. I DON’T HAVE TIME. But, you know, I could do it so much better.+ I’m fine with melodrama! I love melodrama! I just like melodrama when people act like they’re seized by emotions beyond their control, not that they’re jellyfish from Alpha Centauri dressed up in human suits and have all lost their handbooks++ on human behaviour!
+ I have the same feeling about a lot of the Book of Revelation. Alfrick has got me started on Universalis which gives you not merely daily readings but an assortment of daily readings# because I was complaining## about my haphazard prayer-and-Bible-reading habits. I sometimes think that coping with Universalis is the 21st-century version of the sackcloth and self-flagellation . . . but I digress. The other day we had the bit where the critters with all the eyes praise God ceaselessly, and every time they do, the elders prostrate themselves and hurl their crowns at his feet. Um. Okay, and then what? Does an angel come by with a broom and sweep this lot of crowns into the Endless Fire, in which case where do the next lot of crowns come from and how quickly, if the critters with the eyes are praising God ceaselessly? And if it’s ceaseless, how do the elders know when to interrupt by the prostration and the crown-hurling? Or maybe, in the interests of beneficial heavenly ecology, they reuse the crowns. I think it sounds undignified for a lot of elders to go scrabbling around on the floor, groping for crowns.### Will any crown do for any elder? Do they all have the same size head? Do they play nicely together? Or maybe there are aisles, like for bowling balls, and the crowns slide down the aisles and then pop up again where the elders are now picking themselves up for the next round of prostrations.
I could do it better.
# Supposing you can frelling manage the frelling web site. Frelling.
## Never complain to your spiritual advisor. Spiritual advisors are trained by ninja angels to drop you in your tracks the moment you show weakness, fingerprint you with holy oil and rope you up in rosaries. And web site addresses.
++ or possibly tentaclebooks
### Also they’re dressed in white. I hope the housekeeping staff is vigilant.
^^^^ I think it’s supposed to be contemporary, so mid-1800s. It has that historical costume drama look to it anyway.
^^^^^ Unless there’s something about the Italian alphabet I don’t know.
^^^^^^ Also, her best friend offers her some food, telling her she has to keep her strength up. Which she pushes away. Which is not the least surprising since the bowl looks like it’s full of very, very, very overdone roast potatoes. Production really has to remember about close-up camera shots.
** I told you I’d been nailed by Felicity to ring at an invocation this afternoon. I had vaguely registered that Wild Robert was going to be leading the occasion, but I hadn’t really focussed on this fact, which was foolish of me. I told you, I’m kind of out or practise. So rather than doing call changes and maybe a plain course or two of something easy, which is the usual Crabbiton drill for events, Wild Robert lashed us through twenty minutes of frelling Grandsire with a frelling call nearly every lead—which isn’t going to sound like a lot to any even half-experienced bell ringer out there, but when it’s a ground floor ring and a frelling packed out assemblage of the great and good and you’re out of practise and it’s too hot—because spring is here for forty-eight hours and the central heating [sic] was still on—AND THERE’S A FRELLING CALL NEARLY EVERY FRELLING LEAD, twenty minutes is a very long time. And then we’d barely stood our bells when we were off again . . . to ring April Day, frelling spare me, which we’d only rung for the first time this Thursday. Now anyone who doesn’t know April Day will be rightly aghast at ringing a brand-new method at an event—at least a brand-new method with a band that contains me—but anyone who knows about April Day, which is to say April Fool’s Day, will say, oh, piffle, it’s just bob doubles with Grandsire singles. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT IT MEANS TO YOUR MELTING BRAIN WHEN YOU’RE RINGING ONE METHOD—even if it is the first and easiest method that anyone ever learns—AND ARE TRYING TO RING THE CALLS TO ANOTHER METHOD, even if it is probably the second method anyone ever learns, AND STILL FIGURE OUT WHERE YOU NOW FRELLING ARE IN THE METHOD THAT YOU’VE JUST EMERGED FROM THE WRONG CALL BACK INTO????
I could barely drive home. I did not sing at St Margaret’s tonight, as I was supposed to.
*** Yesterday we had a GLORIOUS WARM SUNNY DAY. No, really. The first one since . . . August, I think. Maybe July. And I had to stop early to go to the frelling opera.^ Today after ringing, and after I’d finished fanning myself, moaning, and drinking strong green tea, I tottered out into the garden, where it is still warm but is now raining, because it would be bad for our characters to have two sunny days in a row, to transfer a few more tiny baby plants into trays and pots and . . . I think it was three days ago I was reaching for another baby-plant tray and there was a sudden EXPLOSION of feathers, and a blasted robin was rocketing around the little greenhouse doing that awful panicked-bird thing of banging herself on the glass. I hunkered down on the (dirt) floor till she figured it out and flew away and . . . arrrrrgh. Ever since the [seven foot, brick and flint] wall fell down [sic] for which the resident robins seemed not to have forgiven me, I’ve wistfully kept a couple of previously-favoured nest-gaps clear, which in my greenhouse is heroic, which, furthermore, are on the house-wall side, not the falling-down-garden-wall side. This, however, is apparently the new generation, and they’re not going to use some dreary old shelf their parents have used, they’re going to create a ramshackle even by robin standards nest on top of the tin that holds green wire and dibbers. Which is about as unsafe as you can easily imagine, unless I stood there holding a pole with a plate spinning on top of it and they put their nest on that. So I looked in horror at the tiny naked red baby robin flopping feebly in the mess mum had left behind, shoved the whole catastrophic jumble back behind the fence of green wire—it’s early in the season, I’m not really green wiring a lot at the moment, I can go buy some more—and thought, well, I’d been here over an hour before she took exception to my reaching for a tray on the wrong stack, maybe she’ll be back.
Next day. She was back. I saw her just long enough for her to jump up and flee again. Sigh. How much time can mum spend off the nest at this stage and the babies survive? Not long.
Today . . . she was back. And I’ve figured something out. Who knew? She’s okay with me there. But when I look up and see her, that’s when she freaks out. If I’ve killed this brood of baby robins I’m very sorry, but why does she recognise my face and my eyes?!? Cross species communication, let’s not. Now I’m going to have to crouch and hang my head through the frelling greenhouse for ten days or so till I either hear frenzied FEED ME! FEED ME! chirping, or . . . I don’t.
^ Because I’d been gardening up till nearly the very last minute, when I got home at about 10 pm I took Chaos for his hurtle then. We were nearly to Ditherington and he was like, oh, why are we turning back already? Um, because it’s dark? And this is a small enough town that you run out of streetlights long before you run out of inclination to hurtle. So I got out my (pocket, electric) torch and we had quite a good hurtle after all. I didn’t even fall down.
& And I have broken 2000 words. Sigh.