I have just been looking back to September 11 last year to see if I was going to be repeating myself tonight and . . . I’m not. Last September 11 I talked about board games. I remember that post* but what I don’t remember is why I decided not to say anything about the anniversary. Too personal? Too sombre? Too political? I suppose the blog’s brief has expanded a bit. September 11: the day the world changed for Americans. Perhaps I was thinking about it more in the front, blog-topic area of my mind this year because of Peter’s post about WWII in England and being bombed by the Luftwaffe in your own country, in your own town.** Hawaii was still a mere territory when Pearl Harbor brought America into that war, and it was, furthermore, an island far off the mainland coast.
The first few September 11 anniversaries Peter and I went out to dinner—or stayed home and opened a good bottle of something—and read each other poetry. This slipped, I think, as did so much else, with the move into town. But September 11s don’t go by without my having lit a candle or seven. (The griffin’s candle is clear resin with gold flecks and while he’s a genuine candlestick, you don’t set fire to that candle.) It’s the day the world changed even for expat Americans***—and New York City is where both my career and my best friend live, I lived there off and on myself for some years—owned a flat in Brooklyn Heights, around the corner from the famously saleable bridge and a long stone’s throw from Wall Street and the Twin Towers. September 11 was personal as well as global to me—I was one of the people jamming the phone lines and email connections into Manhattan that day—I can’t remember if this was before broadband, but I certainly didn’t have it. I’d lived in England a decade by then, but I never felt smaller, more far away, more helpless, or more American as on that day.
And I also always pull my beat-up, scrawled-in,† Norton anthology of poetry off the shelf on September 11 and reread this:
. . . except this year I have to read it on line with you because my anthology is up at the mews being a source of song lyrics, and I’m at the cottage eating Green & Black’s.†† A foolish and banal choice I realise—except that the poem is neither one—every sentimental git for the last ninety years wheels it out every time she’s feeling a little morbid about the state of the world or recent events. But—for me anyway—it’s another of those poems, like Prufrock or To His Coy Mistress, that simply works, no matter how many times you’ve read it or how gruesomely it was dismantled in the schoolroom. The next time you read it it’s whole and sound and terrifying again.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.
Maybe I’m just tired: PEGASUS is rolling like it’s on square wheels, the hellhounds aren’t eating again, my piano lesson chiefly served to remind me how passionately I wish the days were longer,††† and we were an awkward mix of ability at ringing practise tonight, which meant I didn’t get to ring much that was interesting to me.
Meanwhile the tea lights are starting to gutter. Time to blow them out, take a bath and go to bed. And read proofs. ‡
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* This is not a given. It happens with some regularity that I look at something with my name on it and say in tones of astonishment/dismay: I wrote that? The blog has merely widened the intake for such moments.
** Golly. Do you know that Connie Willis’ FIRE WATCH is available on line? http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/stories/firewatch.htm
I hope this is all right with her.
*** Although us expats may have been less surprised that it happened at all. The world changes when you emigrate too: your country becomes only one country among many. What happens to other countries will happen to you too, sooner or later. Or perhaps this is just about getting older and having an increasingly bleak view of humanity.
† Yes! Written in!
†† Green & Black’s redesigned the the wrapper for their dark-with-mint a month or so ago. Panic. Fortunately they don’t seem to have altered the recipe for the contents.
††† Oisin is threatening me with piano duets again. I’d actually been thinking about this too. I have even less leftover brain than usual at the moment, on account of that cow PEGASUS, which is a bit of a crimp on the composing side, and playing offers the opportunity to focus more on muscle memory. Also I’m never going to overcome Performance Paralysis if I never perform. I was even contemplating the possibility that the voice lessons might drag me a step or two forward along this road—my piano lessons always were a trifle wide-ranging even before I hit on this composing scam as a way to avoid playing anything. And my voice lessons began with Blondel opening my old art-songs book at random, saying, oh, that’s a nice one, let’s start here, and plunging into the accompaniment in the clear expectation that I would come in on the vocals. Somehow it’s harder to break down as comprehensively, singing, it’s only one voice instead of ten fingers. I suppose I could work up a little laryngitis.
‡ Sleep? Er–remind me what that is again please? I know I used to know.
Here is it. Many thanks to NotLonely!
Silly Canon (MIDI format)
Should automatically play with Quicktime on most systems.
I had asked Jeanne Marie when she first emailed me her long bardic chronicle of The Sibelius Upgrade if I could use it as a blog entry* and she said yes, and that furthermore if it roused any comments on the vagaries of musical software she’d be most interested to read them.** That was last January, and I put it in my Stuff for the Blog file, yaay, a whole entry for some night when I’m too brain dead to cope. And then haven’t used it because I tend to figure, every evening, that tomorrow night will be worse. On a scale of brain death I think I’m no worse than about seven out of ten tonight*** but I have my piano lesson tomorrow at noon† and, well, I told you yesterday about the perils and misadventures with Just a Little Piece, and the awful truth is that the Mozart duet is escaping my best efforts to put a bag over its head and drag it off to present triumphantly to the king/queen/reigning monarch of rhapsody or similar.†† So I’m going to go do something piano-lesson-oriented with the rest of the evening, and I leave you with . . .
Just before Christmas, I received an Offer Too Good To Refuse: an upgrade to Sibelius 5.0 (I’ve been using 2.0 for years now) for only $65!! Yay!! So, I plunked down the money, and had them send me the stuff.
I then emailed our Computer Guru, asking his humble permission to install said upgrade. His reply was cryptic and oracular, as usual, and did not, in my reading of it, constitute permission. I emailed again, offering craven explanations of myself, and the Usual Sacrifices. No reply.
Fast forward to today, when I emailed not only the Computer Guru to again ask humble permission, but also the Business Manager. Business Manager promptly phoned and wanted to know what’s the hold-up, so I explained the Cryptic Reply followed by Silence. I got another phone call in 15 minutes, from apologetic Computer Guru, granting permission (Accepting the Sacrifices). Yay!!
So, I popped in the upgrade disk. Nothing Happened.
I popped it out and popped it in again. Nothing continued to Happen.
Tried this three times (three being my magic number, you see), and Nothing Happened. At all.
So, I popped the disk into the alternate disk drive. This time, I was at least able to humbly ask the computer for permission to see what was on the disk. It told me that the disk was EMPTY and offered to write something on it for me.
I surfed over to the Sibelius website, in order to find a phone number, and then I called them. I was asked (by a computer) if I had a registration that was older than 90 days, I replied truthfully, and it told me to call a different long distance number, so that I could pay for the call. I grumbled, hung up, called back, and Lied Shamefully about my registration timeline, and was immediately patched through to a Nice Young Man.
The Nice Young Man told me that I couldn’t see anything on my installation disk because it was in actuality a DVD, not a CD-Rom.
A DVD?!?! WHAT!?!?! WHY!?!?! Whose brilliant idea..!!?!?!???!
A long explanation later, he told me that the solution was to go online and download the program there (unless I wanted to go find a DVD player and a spare usb port…well, NO, I don’t!). So, he patiently guided me through the website, and I proceeded to download the program.
The download took 55 minutes. (!!!)
I did not stay on the phone with the Nice Young Man for 55 minutes, just took his instructions (just double click on it and the installer will take over), and went to judge a chili contest.††
When I got back, I double-clicked, and waited for the installer to take over. The installer asked me if I wanted to install the program, I told it yes, and it began Extracting…it got to 44% Extracted, and simply stopped. No warning. No “I Am About to Explode” message. No further instructions. No demonic laughter. It just stopped.
I tried it again. The Same Thing Happened. A third time. Same result.
Back to the phone, back through the maze and another use of the Shameful Lie, and I got a message – “we are sorry, no one is available to take your call.” Apparently, all personnel are in a meeting in California the rest of the day.
Back to the website, where the phone message had promised me prompt service to any technical problems. The reply email graciously told me this:
“We will try our best to answer your email within 2-3 working days but in periods when we receive a high level of queries it may take longer to reply to you. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”
At this point, I have only one teeth-clenched comment: FRELLING UPGRADES!!!!!!!!!
Three weeks passed with no further bulletins and at last I wrote . . .
SO WHAT HAPPENED?!?!? Have you got your upgrade? Does it EXIST? Did it INSTALL? Can you USE IT? Does it make any blinking iota of difference? Er, wait, any blinking POSITIVE iota of difference? I want to know how the story ENDS!!!
So, The Rest of the Story -
A day or so after my email to Sibelius Tech Support, I received an email reply to my despairing plea. Tech Support Guy (let’s call him Bob) asked me to call him. Once more unto the breach, I Shamefully Lied to get through the Voice Mail Thicket, and then asked for Bob, as instructed. Bob and I tried various methods to convince the program to upgrade, and were unsuccessful. He decided that the download must have been corrupted somehow, and told me to Delete It And Start Over. I deleted like a mad woman, and prepared to re-download. He guided me through the Valley of the Cyber-Shadow that is Sibelius’ website, and I re-downloaded the thing. Again, it took 55 minutes!
Before I said good-bye to my erstwhile Tech Support man, I asked Bob about a very curious inconsistency in the Helpful Instruction Manual that had been supplied with the original DVD they sent me. In one place, it said that if you were upgrading from Sibelius 2 (which I was), you should uninstall that original program BEFORE you install the new one. Literally two sentences later, it said that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you uninstall the original program, that Very Bad Things would happen… So, I asked Bob to clarify. He grumbled a bit about tech writers and programmers, and then told me I didn’t need to uninstall the original program, it would be fine, the new program would over-write the old one. So I thanked him gravely, and bid adieu to Bob.
Some 55 minutes later, I returned to my computer, and discovered the download blinking at me hopefully. I double-clicked, and asked it to install itself, and it began Extracting…with fingernails in mouth, I waited and watched the “% of files Extracted” get higher, and higher… 35%…40%…42%…45%!! Hooray! We had cleared the magic number! We are upgrading!
At 55%, it offered up a dialog box, and then collapsed in a quivering heap.
I called back, really annoyed now, and ended up speaking to a different Tech Support man, let’s call him Gandalf. Gandalf heard the whole story, amidst sniffling and cursing. When I mentioned the “to uninstall or not to uninstall” the old program question, he was himself annoyed, and wanted the name of the idiot who had told me to leave the old program alone. Apparently, I DID have to uninstall the old program, if I ever wanted to upgrade. I was very nervous about this, you understand! I have 6 years worth of work invested in Sibelius 2, and I wanted multiple reassurances that I wouldn’t lose all those files if I uninstalled the program. He was willing to swear to me on any Noble Tome I liked that I would still have all my files, but that I absolutely HAD to uninstall the old Sibelius program if I wanted to upgrade. Then, Gandalf hung up, hefting a baseball bat and looking for Bob.
Gulping nervously, I uninstalled Sibelius 2, and for good measure, I uninstalled anything that even looked like Sibelius 2 – anything with the Sibelius name on it, all of it went into the recycle bin! When the purge was completed, I resolutely double-clicked on the Sibelius 5.2.5 icon, and held my breath…
I eventually had to breathe, because it extracted all the way to 100%!! It began installing itself, asking me cogent questions like “OK, where should I put this thing?” Yay!
*cue Halleluiah chorus*
My very first test of the upgraded program came barely a day later, and it passed with flying colors. The upgrade is very easy to use and understand, even though it’s much more advanced than the old program – does everything I ask very quickly, and really is a better program overall. So, despite the Trials and Tribulations of installation, I am glad I upgraded.
*cue Sunset and Triumphant Strings*
* * *
* Just so you’ll know, I wouldn’t dream of posting a long essayish or storyish something without asking first.^ I reserve some right to post excerpts with and without attribution as the fancy takes me.
^ Of course with attribution. I’m trying to think if there’d be any good reason to post a piece of someone’s writing, you know, paragraphs of it, without attribution–I being professionally a trifle obsessive about this–and the answer is, probably, but I don’t think I run that kind of blog.
** I have just spent way too much time trying to find a comment someone made on the forum recently, that she was about to start doing some–arranging?–that would involve Deep Engagement with a Music Software Programme–Finale, I think–and was expecting to post various plaints and protests about the process. I thought I remembered both who it was and where it was . . . wrong on both counts. Sigh. But, whoever you are, so, how’s it going?
*** I’ve written entries from a scale reading of 9.5, but it’s not a lot of fun.
† Which is almost too awful to contemplate, but Oisin has organs to play tomorrow afternoon. Three o’clock is the standard time for my lesson and I usually spend from one o’clock to approximately 2:57 rather frantically running myself in: I can have played something flawlessly the night before–indeed this happened last week^–and have merely skipped jollily through it once before my lesson, as for example the duet last week, so I could spend the time on A Study in Arrrgh . . . and I arrive on Oisin’s doorstep and it’s like, Mozart? Have I heard of this person? –You mean this is a piano? I almost decided to cancel my lesson as a means to remove unnecessary humiliation from my week but . . . no. There are limits. But if you hear screams from Hampshire at around 12:05 pm local time tomorrow, you’ll know why.
^ Okay, nearly flawlessly
†† This sounds like a recital situation. Shuuuuuudder.
††† A chili contest. Well, of course. She also raises prize-winning delphiniums and was on the reserve list for the Women’s Championship Tournament with her polo ponies Terror, Apocalypse, Hotspur, and Bunny.
I’m still paying heavily for pretending to be a normal human being on Tuesday* and doing stuff like getting on a train and going somewhere and doing something.** By yesterday afternoon as I fell over the keyboard it had become obvious that far from getting on with the third page of the Sonata Duet Whose Stupid Second Person Part Isn’t Stupid Enough, I was playing the second page worse. So I emailed Oisin and said you really don’t want to listen to me play tomorrow, how about that Introduction to the Organ?
I’ve told you about this before.*** Oisin is an organist first and a pianist second. I’ve historically tended to find the organ rather resistible, but that’s mostly because I don’t like it on CD or the radio; all those amazing echoes and resonances flatten out and become a stick to thump you with. I told Oisin once that I found it a very bullying noise which seems to have made sense to him, fortunately, since you don’t actually want your piano teacher nursing a secret grudge against you, and I needed a fast response to why I know nothing of the organ repertoire when I know quite a lot, in small, eccentric chunks of that for the piano. But I am such a sucker for other people’s enthusiasms†, and there is no way I was going to resist getting interested in the organ with Oisin around. Also, live . . . live organ is something else again. Back in the early days in England when I seemed to have time for things occasionally, I used to go to evensong at churches and abbeys big enough to have good choirs and big organs and revel. I tend to be a voice person, so I’d be going ostensibly for the choir; but sometimes it was the organ solos that made the earth move and the heavens open. Also organs are such interesting objects–wild and complex and enigmatic, at least to someone sitting in the audience and wondering why the pipes are over there and the fellow doing the Lon Chaney†† bit is over here.
And I’ve also told you that Oisin decided a few years ago that he wanted to get some fancy twirly-whirly endorsement for the organ ††† and he keeps talking about it‡ so I started nagging him to let me come hang out some time he was practising–he usually uses the organ at the church I ring Sunday service at, so if I leaned out the bathroom window at the cottage on a warm day when the church doors are open I could probably hear him–although he’s official organist at the medium-sized cathedral a couple of towns over. I probably blogged about this: that he finally let me come sit in. And it was pretty thrilling. And I remember saying something ill-judged like that if I were thirteen and musical, I’d be signing up for organ lessons.‡‡
Then I got into this composing deal and a few months ago Oisin said brightly, You should compose something for the organ. I’m sure you’d enjoy composing something for the organ.
Anggggh. Blah. Eeep. Why . . . sure. I know approximately as much about the organ as I know about the mating habits of the Eurasian Griffon Vulture, but why should I let a little thing like that stop me? A bird is a bird. A keyboard instrument is a keyboard instrument. Right. Yes. Have I mentioned recently that Oisin is insane? Well, all right, most of my favourite people are.‡‡‡ And–am I flattered? Of course I am. Terrified. Appalled. Befuddled. But flattered.
I have however had sufficient presence of mind (?) to suggest that I might have at least one more personal exposure to the organ in terms of what it does and what it likes to play. This has put off the awful moment of my attempting to set little black squiggly spots to manuscript paper for a little while because churches are brutal in the winter–as many of you know–and the person playing the organ may stay reasonably warm due to the remarkable contortions that are necessary to play the pedalboard–that’s the keyboard you play with your feet–but the pathetic shivering audience may develop not merely chilblains but Frozen Eardrum.
But it’s been warm lately.§ And Oisin emailed back that an organ experience sounded like a fine idea to him. So this afternoon he blew into his music room–he’d warned me he’d be a bit late, and I was more or less serenely tormenting his piano while I waited–unloaded and reloaded his music satchel, and we charged off to St Willibald . . . providentially§§ as the funeral party was leaving. So we slid in the back way and Oisin threw back the lid of the console and started pulling handfuls of sheet music out of his satchel again . . . golly. Bach, of course. Lovely, astonishing, frelling Bach. And a lot of people I’ve never heard of.§§§ And Elgar. Poulenc, whom I love anyway. And someone named, I think, Jehan Alain¤, who died in WWII when he was twenty-nine and left the most amazing music behind, evidently: at least Schubert had till he was thirty-one, for pity’s sake, and those last two years were pretty full, and you could furthermore argue that syphilis is at least somewhat your own damn fault while being blown up on the battlefield is not. Anyway.
And all the things you can do with an organ: half a dozen keyboards and four thousand and six variable stops per. Or so. It varies, Oisin says, from organ to organ.¤¤ I’m aware, of course, that the organ can be made to sound like an entire orchestra of different instruments, and I know, as all Lon Chaney devotees know, that there are little handles that you pull out and push in that have to do with how many and what sort of instruments it sounds like are involved, but seeing and hearing it all up close and personal–even on a modest modern console rather than the five keyboards and 101 stops of St Sulpice–is revelatory.¤¤¤ Hmmmmmm. And yes, I did leave with one or two embryonic thoughts about composition: I wonder how ghastly Finale’s organ audio is? I guess I’m going to find out. As we were leaving Oisin fixed me with a glittering eye and said, Just a little piece for the organ, please.
* * *
* If normal human beings go to the opera, which is perhaps debatable.
** Drinking champagne counts, I think, not just the highly skilled and demanding sitting upright in a chair which it takes newborn babies months to master. Sigh.
*** Sorry. I see no way around regular reiterations of this applied to different topics. Different people remember different things. I, of course, remember nothing^, but that’s a different issue.
^ Hellhounds? What are hellhounds?
† Why I Don’t Read Yarn Harlot Regularly. Or, for that matter, Jodi Meadows.
†† Andrew Lloyd who?^
^ And I’ve never seen Cats. This is very nearly indecent in someone who has spent serious life time in New York City. Not to mention London. I’ve seen Jesus Christ Superstar, back when he was still just some guy, and Evita. That’s enough. Stephen Sondheim wipes the floor with Andrew.
††† I don’t do post grad degrees, okay? I haven’t the foggiest what this is. Only that it has some truly terrifying exams, including transposing and composing on the hop and being instantly brilliant on an organ you’ve never seen in your life before–and organs are horribly individual. Much worse than pianos or rosebushes^ or hellhounds.
^ My latest Mutabilis is growing away like anything. We’re having frost again at night, arrrrrrgh, or at least the threat of frost, so suddenly my having bought tidy, reusable plant protective ‘fleece’ at end-of-season sales is not as totally loopy as it looked. Mutabilis took one look at her drawstring bag however and said Yaaaah! Try and put it on me! Go on, try! –and promptly shot out a few seven-foot stems. Comtesse du Cayla is putting up with it politely and Tipsy . . . is still coming indoors.
‡ Me? Encourage him?
‡‡ How to make buying a nice piano look cheap: think about a pipe organ.
‡‡‡ So am I of course. I consider it an honourable state.
§ Sort of. The jungle’s in the kitchen again tonight, and the garden is dotted with plant-fleece bags.
§§§ Blush. Sigh.
¤ I love Google. I’d remembered him as Jean Allain. http://www.naxos.com/composerinfo/Jehan_Alain/23996.htm
¤¤ I find myself feeling rather relieved I’m not thirteen and desperately musical.
¤¤¤ We were there something like an hour and a half. My cough cough piano lesson cough cough is supposed to last half an hour.
It’s already past one in the morning, so you’ll forgive me if this is a little goofier than usual. Also I’ve just wasted way too much time trying to figure out how to angle my camera at the mirror so the flash doesn’t obliterate me: I’ve received several preemptory demands for photos of Robin Going to the Opera* . . . but I went alone** and when I got there–partly, I think, because I haven’t been in so long and so the intimidation factor was unusually high, and part of not having been in a while is that I remember the old crusty faded ENO rather than the shiny new in your face one***–I just did not have the temerity to flounce up to either a fellow audience member or a member of staff and say, in my rich American accent, Would you please take a photo of me at the ENO for my friends back home?
So, the first thing that went wrong is that the taxi didn’t show up.
It takes about twenty minutes from here to the train station. I allowed thirty-five. When the (*&^%$£”!!!!!! taxi was ten minutes late I went out and waited on the street. He’d already called me once, for my post code for his frelling sat nav, so it’s not like he didn’t have my phone number. Which is where–pacing frantically–my semi-detached neighbour found me, and said, you’re looking very smart (and anxious).† And I said, I’m supposed to be catching a train to London to go to the opera, but the taxi is fifteen minutes late.
I’ll get the car, he said.
Gallantry is not dead. And tomorrow I will go to our local wine shop and ask the proprietor, who is also a neighbour, what my semi-detached drinks, and I’ll buy a jeroboam of it.
I even made the train, which was thoughtfully two minutes late. I needed those two minutes: it was pulling into the station as I was yanking my ticket out of the machine.†† At which point I subsided into the nearest empty seat and thought about not having ME so that the adrenaline rush of the last half hour hadn’t killed me. Sometimes positive thinking works.
It appears to have worked in this case.††† Although the fact that the opera–Janacek’s Jenufa–was superb helped.‡ The story is the hard part–the music is nowhere near as demanding as I used to assume all of Janacek is–indeed it’s pretty lush and glorious. But the story’ll ruin you. I stayed awake and more or less alert to the end . . . and then the train home was packed to the gills–at midnight!–with St Patrick’s Day gnomes in tall green hats, and I couldn’t get my computer out ‡‡ without knocking someone’s hat off, or, probably, getting doused in someone’s green beer. So I didn’t. I actually read a, you know, book. I wasn’t proofreading anything. I wasn’t editing anything. I wasn’t reading a homeopathic journal. I was reading not only a book but a novel. It was thrilling.‡‡‡ The train ride was too short. . . .
Except in terms of getting an entry written before dawn.
* * *
** My one good London opera friend is more the Handel type. Actually now that it’s too late I can think of someone else I should have asked but . . . it’s too late.
*** With two count ‘em two restaurants, which claim to be able to feed you a three-course meal in the twenty five minute interval. I can barely get through a cup of tea and a biscuit in twenty-five minutes. No, hold the biscuit, menopause won’t let me. But when the new ENO started trumpeting about their on-site food opportunities I briefly got excited: but even their ‘light’ suppers are full of options like: ‘Rare roast loin of beef, creamed celeriac & horseradish with caramelized onion, cannolini beans and shaved winter truffle.’ Shaved winter truffle? Please. I’d like some smoked salmon, half a lemon, and some parsley.^ Or a peanut butter sandwich.^^ To err into the real world for a minute here, it seems to me that if opera administrations are going to honk about widening their audiences and that opera isn’t only for the elite, and they are going to honk about widening their audience and that opera isn’t only for the elite, I feel that a good practical step in that direction would be, when you’re planning your second restaurant, to give serious consideration to something resembling a café.
^ If you want to make it exciting you can use flat-leaf parsley.
^^ Hold the bread.
† No, I didn’t ask him to take my photo. Excuuuuuuuse me.
†† Although British Rail seems to be having another phase where you can buy your ticket on the train. You never know.
††† And this despite the fact that I got there in time–thanks to having caught the right train–to have some sushi at Pret a Manger–realised that I hadn’t been to London in too long and couldn’t cope with the crowds–went straight to the ENO instead, and bought a programme^ and a glass of champagne.^^ And settled down in a comfy chair in a corner and had a very pleasant half an hour, even if I was a trifle light-headed for the rest of the evening.
^ Not very nutritious, programmes
^^ And missed Peter terribly. During the opera itself I was very glad not to be worrying about what a really awful time he would have been having. But champagne at the opera is one of Peter’s and my things.
‡ Not everyone loved it, but these two reviews are both pretty fair and pretty similar to my feelings about it, although dead centre in row B^ I took an intense dislike to the conductor. I probably liked Jenufa slightly less and the wicked stepmother slightly more than the apparent average. The English translation of the libretto is like being hit with a brick every syllable however which keeps you a bit more at arm’s length than you might or should be and I get really tired of committed opera people saying oh this or that opera is the one to take someone who doesn’t like opera to because the story works and the dramatic pacing is just like a play. Okay, I’m a committed opera person and I say that about Carmen and Marriage of Figaro. I would not say it about Jenufa. Jenufa has some absolutely amazing stuff in it, and the music is to die for, and the awful arc of the second act ending in the murder of the baby is totally, catastrophically riveting . . . but Jenufa finds out her baby is dead, her lover is unfaithful, is married off to her lover’s brother who–by the way–slashed her with a knife in act one in a fit of pique because she liked his brother better, her stepmother murdered her baby . . . FORGIVES her stepmother and decides to have a nice life with the knife-wielding brother, all in about fifteen minutes at the end. And is still standing. Yo. Credibility alert. Now opera generally speaking is not the truest-to-life of art forms, and I haven’t got a problem with this per se: but one of Jenufa’s claims to fame is its verismo. Needs work is what I say.
^ Buying a single ticket you can get a remarkable break sometimes
‡‡ Of course I brought a computer.
‡‡‡ And the last thing that went wrong was that I was trying to open my little packet of organic cashews, I having left my rather large packet-opening jackknife at home in case the ENO has started x raying you at the door^ and it was one of these situations where the glue is stronger than the bag and it burst, hurling faintly oily and quite salty cashews all over my silk skirt. Arrrrrgh. On the other hand, the hellhounds had eaten their supper for the dog minder.