Sunday, 12 December 2010


48 hours after Hamlet, I returned to our local Cineworld's Screen 3 for Don Carlo last evening: live relays from the Metropolitan Opera have begun again, praise the Lord. A couple of minor hiccoughs with the transmission served only to underline the miracle of modern science that enables us to sit in Cheltenham and watch what New Yorkers are experiencing in the theatre. To be able to bike 10 minutes down to the cinema and pick up a ticket at the door (and for only £10) seems to me incredible good fortune.

Both production and performances were outstanding. I forgot I had seen most of the principals in the same staging when televised from Covent Garden a year or so ago, but no matter when such excellence is on hand. Of the cast, Marina Poplavskaya again stood out for me, with her extraordinary legato and perfect looks for the part of Elisabeth de Valois.

Something else we now take for granted is subtitling. Not every word of the libretto is given us, but last night, with the King of Spain around, "Sire!" naturally recurred a good deal. And earlier in the day we had seen another famous sire. Makfi, winner of this year's 2,000 Guineas, resides in a stableyard beside the house where we were lucky enough to be invited to lunch yesterday: stud fee, £25,000.

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