Monday, May 21, 2018

21.9.67 - Lost in the cemetery

Sydney 21.9
Oh, dear
MICHAEL FRUSTRATED CROWL will be my name from now on.

At long last I got something positive from the Ballet – and even then it was at second hand (via Anne). No go – well, I’m afraid that I feel rather relieved about that – Ballet’s not really my line and since even the Ballet dancers would have known the music better than me, I think it might have been a little risky. [This is bit of nonsense, of course; no ballet dancers, any more than opera singers, know all the music of all the repertoire.] So, I’m not over-worried about that. More relieved than anything to have something positive at long last. That’s not where the frustration bit comes in!

Rookwood Mortuary Station - not when I was there!
Decided to go out to Rookwood Cemetery this afternoon. So via Cecil and the Caretaker (on the This is my father’s burial number.] Well, clever Michael decides to go and find it, disregarding the fact the everyone sez Rockwood’s a big place. I should have asked the Caretaker exactly where section 17 was, but I assumed that at least they’d be in some sort of order. [2018: Shades of the Aussie library systems. LOL.]
phone) I got hold of the number of the grave: Sect 17, No 3486, believe it or not. [

Well, I got a through train from Wollstonecraft (at Northwood end) to Lidcombe, which took me nearly an hour, so that it was about 4.15 by the time I got there. [I remember this trip: mile after mile of suburbia passing by, a sight I wasn’t to see again until I reached London.] I had planned to get back to Northwood for tea! Well, I went into the cemetery, (which is just down the road from Lidcombe Station) and found section 13 sitting right there. But apart from a section 5, everything else was labelled A, or G, or EE! I discovered later that this was the old part of the cemetery. Well, I trekked around for a while and finally asked a lady in a house that was sitting right in the middle of this bit if she knew where sect. 17 was? She didn’t! So after losing myself thoroughly in this place I finally came upon a sign saying ‘Catholic’ – this was the new part, I presume, though some of the stones had been there for years. To my joy (it was now about 5.15!) I saw some small name-plates that looked like the thing I wanted. But these only went up to 1050 or so. I then went right round that area and found every section (18, 16, 20, 14, 15, 10 *!!!) but the one I wanted. And there was absolutely no reason to it all. So if ever I get the chance again I’ll try again. 

But I wasn’t finished yet. I took the road that I thought I’d come up, but all it would do was insist on taking me in a completely unfamiliar direction. As far as the eye could see there were graves, or bits of unrecognisable countryside. You’ve no idea what an odd feeling it is to be completely and utterly lost (I couldn’t find one of the churches I’d seen on the way in) in a cemetery just before sunset.
Fortunately, a car came tootling around the road I was on, and I waved them down and asked how to get to the station, explaining that I’d got lost on the way through. They very kindly pointed out the direction and were about to drive off when they realised I didn’t have a car. So they gave me a lift to the station which had somehow transplanted itself a good two miles away from where it had been before.

AAAAGH!! Why don’t they put up some sort of signs of where sections are, etc? Of course, by the time I got to the Catholic Office in the grounds everyone had gone home.

So when I got to the station, I rang up Anne and said I couldn’t make it home for tea and get to Rigoletto, (it was now 10 to 6) so I decided to have tea in town (which didn’t bother her a bit) and meet her at the theatre.

Went to the Poet and Peasant for tea, again, and then onto the Tivoli. [2018: in the previous notes I added that this was ‘the theatre’. Curiously enough, according to Wikipedia, the Tivoli stopped presenting shows in 1966, and was demolished in 1969. But this page says the production was definitely presented there. In fact, it looks as though all the operas I mention were performed there that year.] Went to my usual seat beside the tympani player only to find that the harpist (who wasn’t playing) and his girlfriend had already arranged to be there. So in the end, I wandered upstairs and sat in a chair in one of the boxes that no one seemed to want! [2018: Quite extraordinary to think that I could go into the theatre unchallenged like this each time.]

Quite a good show, though only the baritone (as Rigoletto) was really good. Somehow feel that the NZ Opera version was rather better all round. (Bias!!) [The NZ Opera version, presented in the heyday of their existence, was firstly designed by Raymond Boyce. This meant that in the middle of the duet between Rigoletto and Gilda, in the second act, the wall hiding the garden from view suddenly shifted forward as the two singers went through the gate, turning the whole scene into the garden.* Boyce used the same effect in Porgy and Bess, going from the outside to the inside of the house in the middle of the storm scene. Hardly a new idea, but very effective in its timing in both instances. As well, I managed to see both performances of the opera in Dunedin, by being an usher, and, because it was really my first experience of the opera, I was overwhelmed by it. I don’t remember who played the role of Rigoletto in the first performance, but it was sung by Lucas Bunt on the second night, a gentleman I was to have more than a little to do with while touring with him around NZ as part of the Opera Quartet. I may be wrong, but I think three other members of the first Quartet I toured with, Ray Opie, the tenor, Corinne Bridge, the mezzo, and Kathleen Johnson, the soprano, were also in at least one of the casts. I don’t remember a thing about this Australian Rigoletto, but in at least one of the performances I saw in London- it may have been that memorable first night that I arrived there – the baritone pitched a note he sings on his own a semitone flat, and when the orchestra came in, something Verdi never wrote persisted for quite a number of bars.]

Got another letter from you, Hurray!!!
So, see yuh, Love Mike

* You can see a sketch of one of the sets built for Rigoletto here. The picture is copyright, so I can't reproduce it.