On Wednesday evening I saw a live performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the Royal Opera House. But I didn’t have to catch a train to London and then a tube, later followed by an overnight stay. It was just a fifteen minute drive from my home in Derbyshire through spectacular countryside to the George Hotel in the Peak District town of Tideswell. Tideswell Cinema was streaming that night’s performance in a room above the pub and what a magical experience it was.
Of course it’s not quite the same as being there in person – you do lose the sense of occasion and you’re experiencing the music at second hand. But on the other hand you have a better view than anyone in the audience and the close-ups of Roderick Williams’s wonderful comic performance as Paganino were alone worth the entry price – not to mention those of the magnificent Julia Jones conducting. And it was enthralling to see a live performance with all its energy and immediacy.
As the performers took their curtain calls, tweets came up on the screen from home and abroad – New York, Australia and Spain: digital applause. It was especially fitting for an opera that is about the triumph of light over dark and about our shared humanity. I was moved, knowing that thousands of other people all over the world had just watched and enjoyed what I had watched.
La Bohème is coming up soon and I can’t wait.
The photo shows French soprano, Sabine Devieilne, in superb form as the Queen of the Night.
I’d like to blame it all on Martin Edwards. Those anthologies in the British Library Classic Crime series that Martin edits are just too tempting: those delectable covers! And yes, I have been snapping them up as they come out and enjoying them hugely. However the truth is that the current short story binge was triggered by finding a copy of Diagnosis Impossible: The Problems of Dr Sam Hawthorne by Edward D Hoch in a second-hand bookshop in Leicester. I do like an impossible crime and the short story is a good vehicle for this kind of puzzle. I enjoyed the stories so much that I downloaded two more collections featuring Dr Sam Hawthorne and then moved on to All But Impossible! An Anthology of Locked Room and Impossible stories edited by Edward D Hoch.
At the moment the rest of my reading life is taken up by reading Dante’s Inferno and that may be why I am so much relishing short stories. Every year my book group selects a ‘Big Read,’ a book that is too long or difficult to tackle in a month, but is manageable spread over the summer. In this way we’ve demolished Anna Karenina, Life and Fate, and Middlemarch amongst others. This year it was Dante’s turn and, my goodness, it is a demanding read, though a fascinating one. In the edition I am reading the commentary and the notes are longer than the text. So my bedtime reading at the moment consists of a canto of the Inferno, followed by a short crime story or two, rather like following a meaty main course with a sorbet. And then I fall asleep to Timothy West reading Barchester Towers. Bliss.