Saturday, 5 January 2013

War horse

Les Troyens is on this evening, relayed from the New York Met. Caroline and I went along to our local cinema at 5 o'clock, plus picnic, ready for the five-hour big screen session; but by mutual agreement we came away at the first interval. After eating the picnic round our kitchen table, I find I'm much happier listening to Berlioz in the warmth of my study.

In the 'Sixties, I was an avid fan of this composer: Benvenuto Cellini with Nicolai Gedda was one of my earliest experiences of opera at Covent Garden; and three of us drove specially to Edinburgh in May 1969 to hear Janet Baker sing Dido in Scottish Opera's Trojans. This evening, though, in Cineworld I was bored. Was it the production, the singing or the music? Perhaps a combination of all three.

The ghost of Hector's appearance in a puff of pantomime smoke, stock still and dressed in white on top of a cave, with Aeneas kneeling below, brought the Grotto at Lourdes awkwardly to mind. Deborah Voigt as usual seemed unable to stop smirking, unfortunate when you're playing Cassandra.

Yesterday, we came to the end of the Radio 3's relay of the Ring Cycle in 10 instalments (a recording of the Covent Garden production last Autumn). As then, I listened to pretty well every bar; and that probably explained why tonight's rumpty-tum Berlioz left me squirming on my cinema seat.

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