Friday, January 01, 2016

16.9.69 - The Trojans

Dear Mum, What a life! I’ve just spent the whole weekend working, and then spent all day yesterday rushing from A to B and back again. One of the other cashiers had flu apparently so I was working from 11.00 or so on Saturday until much the same hour at night, and then again all day Sunday, from 2.00 till about 10.30. However, at least the money has been balancing out, since I’ve been doing it on my own, so that seems to point to the fact that it isn’t necessarily my mistake when the money is out.
I didn’t have to work yesterday at all, though they were contemplating it at one stage (!!!) and so David and I went to the full rehearsal of The Trojans which lasted from 10.30 in the morning until 5.15! But that was with about an hour and a half off and quite a number of unnecessary breaks. What a fantastic piece it is: it lasts about four and something hours in performance, without counting the intervals, and there are barely any posts of tedium at all. I can’t type for sour nuts this morning ˗ everything is going up the wop.
It’s in two parts really; the first concerns the acceptance into Troy of the Trojan horse, and shows how Cassandra was able to foresee it all happening and no one would pay any attention to her. It also introduces us to a whole host of characters in a big court scene, but very few of them have anything much to do except comment on the death of Laocoön, who has just been eaten up by a snake that came out of the sea. Aeneas is the most important character apart from Cassandra, and he and a few others escape (Cassandra and most of the Trojan women commit suicide rather than be captured) and make their way into the second part of the opera which is about the Trojans in Carthage where Dido reigns as Queen, and this section concerns the love story of Dido and Aeneas and her suicide when he goes off to Rome. (I think!)
It’s an epic piece and near enough needs the time it takes to tell ˗ in fact one would be very upset to lose anything much, it’s all so original. The opening has a long scene between Cassandra and her boyfriend, Chorebus (he is killed off stage somewhere later on) which is very dramatic, then we get the court scene where they describe the snake bit ˗ Aeneas sees it just prior to the opening of the scene; before this there is a bit done in pantomime where Andromache and her little boy enter in mourning (for whom?) while the chorus of people comment very dispiritedly: they dislike having sad things happening, but this is only the beginning of a long lost of tragedy. This court scene was designed in golds and blacks; very starkly brilliant. The people go off and discover the Trojan horse, and bring it on stage to much rejoicing: only momentarily thinking there may be something strange about it when a slight clatter of armour is heard from inside!
The next scene shows Aeneas asleep in his tent; and during a long introduction we hear the approach of Hector’s ghost ˗ he has come to rouse Aeneas up to battle; and the sudden shock in the orchestra when he does wake him is quite frightening! The last scene shows the Cassandra suicide. All this part of the opera is done in very dark colouring and dismal lighting. In the next part, colour abounds. (By this time I was sitting in one of the boxes with Alistair and we could see all the detail.) Dido first greets Aeneas on his arrival, and then promptly the latter saves the Carthaginians from being overtaken by the Nubians (I think!). Slowly we see these two fall in love, especially in a long gorgeous and yet very simple duet, that was done yesterday in the most fabulous way.
Aeneas goes off in the next scene and Dido commits suicide in the last in a very moving death scene. I really need about a dozen newsletters to tell you all about it and the wealth of detail, but suffice to say I think it will be one of the greatest successes that the Garden has ever had.

After this I rushed home because Mike had given me two tickets for TheBattle of Britain premiere and as I didn’t have any clothes because I hadn’t been able to get to the laundrette when I should have over the weekend, I intended to go round then and wash myself something. I knew Hazel was also going to the film but was to be sitting a different seat[ing area]. I didn’t have anyone else to go with so I rang her and she said she’d come and sit with me, but then told me that I didn’t have nearly as much time as I expected. I went to the laundrette anyway, and found that I wasn’t going to have much time to dry the clothes so thought I’d just dry what I needed. Just as I was about to do so a woman stepped in and pinched the dryer! So I went back to the flat intending to iron the clothes I needed, dry, but this wouldn’t work either; so I borrowed a pair of David’s sox, and ironed my tattiest shirt, and set out with these and my dinner jacket. [My ‘dinner jacket’? I don’t remember ever having one of these!] I’d missed the train, then couldn’t get a bus, then couldn’t get a tube, then another connecting tube, then found I didn’t have a handkerchief and a cut on my face from shaving started to bleed!! AAAgh! What a night. The film turned out to be singularly dull, and isn’t worth seeing at all. In spite of its cast and fairly spectacular battle scenes. Douglas Bader went up the stairs while I was standing in the foyer with Hazel and we saw Kenneth More about two foot away afterwards. But otherwise it was a drag and not a good full stop to The Trojans! Love, Mike