Friday, January 01, 2016

3.10.69 - Trojans again, and more


Dear Mum, I haven’t heard any more from you about your state of health, but I won’t send this until tomorrow by which time perhaps another letter may have arrived. It seems unlikely that anything disastrous has happened to you ˗ apart from perhaps turning a few more shades of the spectrum, just for variety’s sake (chameleon Crowl!) ˗ otherwise no doubt I would have heard from someone. I suspect you’re up to your old tricks again, and have been organising games evenings, and Bingo parties and races up and down the ward (handicap for those in wheelchairs?). Anyway, seriously, I do hope you’re well onto the recovery list and don’t intend going back to that hospital again, however much you may enjoy yourself while you are there!

I had two days off at the beginning of the week, as I have a feeling I already told you, and on the second evening, on David’s suggestion, I went down to Covent Garden and stood outside to see if I could get a seat that was being returned; people often sell them directly on the street it seems when someone has decided not to come or can’t. I picked up a seat in the lower slips which is on the side of the horseshoe that the auditorium consists of. It means that you have to lean forward all night in order to see, and that you can’t always see the side of the stage that you’re actually on, but it has the advantage of being over the orchestra, and consequently you can hear every note that is sung, and see the people’s faces. This last is quite something, because when you sit in the back of the amphitheatre, where at least you can see all the stage, you can barely see what sort of expression people have on their faces.

Peter Glossop
For the first time I enjoyed the singing of Peter Glossop, who always makes a beautiful sound but doesn’t seem to put any heart in it. It would seem however, that you need to be that much closer to him to appreciate just what he is doing. [Covent Garden was a huge space for singers to fill, after all, especially over the top of an orchestra, but Glossop had an illustrious career there for all that.]

The opera was The Trojans again (this time with everything in its proper sequence) and it really is a fabulous piece. Even though the first act goes on for an hour and a half, and the second (in the Garden’s arrangement of it) for over another hour and the last for about 52 minutes. You’re never bored with it ˗ it has tremendous variety, even though this has the tendency not to make it all of a piece; it seems to work, for me anyway.

From where I was sitting I could see the six harps (!) that were positioned in one of the boxes on the lowest level opposite. They are used (in the most original idea practically, in the opera) as accompaniment to the women of Troy who are singing a song of defiance against the men who’ve come out of the horse. Harps don’t sound quite like the thing for defiant music, but the tremendous buoyancy of the song, and the snatches of wind and strings with it, make ia really foot thumping piece.

HeatherBegg is in the opera, in a fairly large minor role, and does it fairly well I think, though David has some objections to make about the way she sings the lower notes which are too low for her comfortably I’m sure. [Heather Begg was a NZ mezzo, who toured in Die Fledermaus with the NZ Opera Company, when I worked as a repetiteur on the production.]

The woman playing Dido, Josephine Veasey, was indisposed on Tuesday, and we had Janet Baker singing the role ˗ in English, with everybody else doing it in French. It was only due to the sheer expertise and sincerity of everybody that it came off ˗ and I rather think I prefer Baker; she has exactly the right sort of voice for it, though no doubt Veasey will grow into the part, and eventually manage to sing it as well as Baker now does. The latter did it in Scotland for Scottish Opera, who were actually the first to do the thing complete anywhere, even though it was in English.

Peter, David’s brother, came up to see it and stayed on for the last couple of days. He’s hitching back this morning. 

I’ve had a bit of a raw throat over the last day or so, so I registered myself with the local Jewish doctor this morning, and he’s given me some penicillin tablets to take. He was very overriding in the nicest possible way ˗ I also asked if there was anything could be done to prevent my colds, and he said there was nothing could be done, and that it was all fairy tales that there was any sort of preventive! He was fairly pleasant though, otherwise. The only thing I can do about colds I think is to make sure I eat well. Did I tell you I went back to the Centre the other day, and had a meal there? It was tremendously gluey, and not very filling somehow. I think I cook as well. Anyway, I’m eating satisfactorily all the time, so we’ll see how we cope. I thought I should see about this throat though before it went any further ˗ I left it so long last time, remember, and was barely able to breathe in the end. [I’m not sure if this is referring to something that happened in England, or to the time when I was touring with the NZ Opera and conked out for over a day as the result of a throat infection. Some of the other members of the orchestra came looking for me at my boarding house because they were so worried when I didn’t turn up for a performance.]

Moneywise things are going well took, because apart from the money that is owed me (the agents for the last flat have only just sent me a cheque for our deposit ˗ two months after we left!, and after a considerable number of phone calls and letters from me. They’re so pathetic and unbusinesslike). I was paid nearly thirteen pounds for last week, even though I was only there three days ˗ true, I did work from ten in the morning till eleven at night each day, but I didn’t expect that it would be much above my basic wage. Life itself has been rather complex lately, and I’ve spent this week trying to sort out my love affairs! With a bit of luck I’ll know where I stand next week, so I may be able to elaborate a bit on the subject then. Anyway, get well, lots of love, Mike.

P.S. Got your being better letter. What on earth did they do to your throat? Keep up the good work anyway.[If memory serves me right the doctors had to cut into her throat for some reason, and after that she claimed she could never sing, something she’d always done around the house.]