Wednesday, November 04, 2015

7.5.69 Busy week

7.5.69 [This aerogramme was handwritten, and has a number of words missing presumably due to the hastiness of the writing]

Dear Mum, I thought I’d better start this off while I have a minute, because I don’t seem to have much free time coming up this week. I’ve been very very busy for Bamford, for one thing, and I also had to do some work for another of the Reps at the Centre which took all Monday night up.

To recap a little: the previous Sunday night , David Gorringe and I went to the Palladium (!) because he had free tickets, and saw the filming of a Variety Show there for TV. (We were one [I think I meant ‘two’] of about 2000 in the audience!) It was rather interesting really because, though it wasn’t like being in a TV studio, a lot of the details were the same. (Have I told you, incidentally, that John and I went out and bought a table, for £2, a drawleaf one, and four Edwardian chairs for £4?? This was rather more than I wanted to pay for so little, but the chairs at least may be quite valuable, and are certainly solid!) [My eternally misplaced optimism about getting a real bargain at a secondhand shop.] (We also have a piano which we got for nothing, except the expense of getting it to the flat. It’s not in the best of conditions but when I get a moment I’ll have a look at it.) ( We also have a fourth occupant of the flat; I think I’ve already mentioned he was coming. He’s Jeff, anyway).

Last Tuesday, Mike and I went to the Wells’ production of The Magic Flute*. Golly, this is a fabulous opera. I really enjoy it each time. Some of the singing wasn’t as good as the [Covent] Garden [production], and some was better and some was awful. And though the production wasn’t quite as magical in spots as the Garden, we still had the Queen of the Night appearing out of nothingness (simple, but always effective ˗ she arrived on a forklift truck apparently!) and a much better ordeal by fire and water. At the Garden they mostly went thru a lot of lit streamers that were either coloured red (for the fire) or green (for the water), but in this production they went in a cylinder-shaped thing which was broken in two semi-circular pieces; when they went into it closed right around them, was lit up inside, and then for the fire went red in flame-like lighting ˗ the two silhouettes still seen inside. For the water, instead of flames the cylinder appeared to fill with green water, and when it covered the two characters, Tamino, who all [the time] was playing his flute, caused bubbles to arise from his breath under water. This was one of many delightful touches. Apart from the obvious Masonic symbols etc, the opera contains one of the most superb love stories in all operas. Tamino and Pamina, who fall in love before they’ve even seen each other, are wonderful examples of the power of love over everything (including Masonry!). There’s one scene for example where Pamina tries to get Tamino to tell her he loves her, but because he’s been told not to speak to anyone, he cannot say anything, and she finishes her speech with the heart-breaking ‘I wish I could die’ ˗ and then pours out her anguish in one of the [most] beautiful arias ever written. In spite of all sorts of distractions she remains faithful to Tamino and they go through fire and water together in the end, tho’ that doesn’t seem to have been in the original plan!

On Wednesday, I did some work for Bamford and was told of something that he wanted to know if I’d like to do at the weekend. This was to go to a composer’s home in Hampstead (Wilfred Josephs ˗ I think he did the music for the Great War TV series) and with an electric eraser, to rub out stave lines (they’re printed on the back of the music) for some modern work. They said (the composer and his wife) it would take a couple of hours to do the fifteen pages ˗ well it took  four hours to do five!! What a job ˗ I’m off to do some more tonight and will probably have to do it again tomorrow night. I charged them 10/- an hour, which they paid, but I felt it might have [been] too much, until the Bamfords said, it was the least I should have charged! [I’m not sure what I mean about the staves being printed on the back of the music; the whole job ˗ I can only remember being at the house ˗ sounds a bit odd, and would have been a doddle in the computer age.]

And I went to the Crowls again ˗ with a COLD (but I’ve been taking vitamin tablets and it seems to have gone), and [had] a pile of checking as well as this four hours work. What a weekend!! I’m not going to get finished here I can see ˗ I’ll write another one soon, love Mike.

*I note that one of the cast members of the Wells production of The Magic Flute was Donna-Faye Carr, who was at the London Opera Centre during at least part of my year there.