Tuesday, August 18, 2015

24.3.69 Chance meetings and kerfuffle at the flat

24.3.69 [handwritten]
Dear Mum, what a small world it is! Apart from meeting up with Don Rutherford today ˗ I’ll explain about that in a minute ˗ I was sitting in a little restaurant in Charing Cross Rd, reading thru a score of a rather difficult one act opera we’re doing in the middle of next term. A man came and sat opposite me as there wasn’t much room, and as he was about to leave, he asked me if I was reading it for pleasure or if it was being done somewhere. I said, yes, at the Opera Centre, and he says, in the East End?, and I says, yes, and he says, is it as bad up the right way as upside down, and I said it was and showed him ˗ he turned out to be a rep from Covent Garden, and mentioned he was working on Cellini (Benvenuto Cellini, by Berlioz ˗ it’s his anniversary this year). We had a wee chat about difficulties of playing un-pianistic stuff before he left, and he wished me luck with it and said he was glad he wasn’t doing it! But this cafe isn’t close to Covent Garden, and is only one of hundreds in this area ˗ I’m now in the all-night P.O., about five minutes away. I discovered this restaurant the Sunday I was looking for St Pat’s in Soho, and it was about the only place open that Sunday morning.
Don [Rutherford, a singer from Dunedin with whom I worked on a couple of local amateur shows. He was also instrumental in getting me the job with the NZ Opera Company as pianist on their La Boheme piano tour, which he sang in. He moved to Canada, and then spent most of his operatic career in Germany.) is over here to ‘cover’ (a nicer word than ‘understudy’) the role of Hamlet in the
Humphrey Searle
new opera of the same name by Humphrey Searle. Don had done it in Canada and since the guy who has the role is likely to walk out any minute because he doesn’t think he can do it, Don was brought over for seven and a half weeks (with his wife) just to sit round in case. [It wasn’t because the other singer, Victor Braun, couldn’t do it, but because he was having considerable trouble with his voice. And then Donald himself got encephalitis and never performed.] They were rehearsing at the Centre today (they do a lot of Garden rehearsals there) and I met him in the canteen for a few minutes. He hasn’t changed at all ˗ except that he has slightly wispy sideboards currently in fashion here (and apparently in Canada) and he has a touch of a Canadian accent.
Things at the flat have been undergoing rapid changes of late. John, you see, is a notoriously late getter-upper in the morning and consequently is seldom on time for work. Well, both Noel Gibson at the Centre (who is sort of his boss) and June Megennis, who’s the Director’s secretary) and who practically runs the place, had been asking me where John gets to in the mornings and complaining, as I thought, reasonably enough. Well, I was getting a bit brassed off at them constantly going off at me about it and told John so ˗ which caused a rather heated argument! Anyway, I apologised in the end for going on at him about it and a lot of useful matter came out. According to John, he didn’t have to keep strict hours, and a whole lot of other guff, some of it reasonable enough and some of it slanted with John’s rather curious outlook. Next day, he gave in his notice!! saying he was tired of the place and the corrupt way its run ˗ the previous day his car brakes had failed and now he has neither car nor job !!! (But he does have money in the bank at least.) He seems quite happy and is looking for something else to tide him over until he gets in (he hopes) to the Royal College, in September. So!
Today I spent a fiver on buying old Vocal Scores ˗ I’ve got to have them ˗ but it was payment for a job, so it worked out nicely!

Love, Mike.