Wednesday 19 May 2010

A Tale of Two Screams

A very unusual day yesterday.

In the morning, I had a root-canal operation and spent two and a half hours with a dentist's head hovering above me and all sorts of drills, iron clamps, needles and syringes messing around in my mouth, to the grating sound of several internal shrieks.

By contrast, in the evening, two and a half hours of the most melodious high notes: it was the premiere of a new UK production of Tosca at the Coliseum (coinciding with the launch of our Overture Opera Guides series), and Elisabetta and I were kindly invited there by English National Opera. My only regret is that the opera was not sung in Italian, as Tosca is one of those works that don't translate easily into another language: most of the music is in the words themselves, and it gets lost in translation.

It's amazing to think that Tosca was premiered 110 years ago, when my great-grandfather was only sixteen years old (Joyce's Ulysses and TS Eliot's Waste Land were published only two decades later). So much has changed in terms of taste, language, fashion and social mores since then that I had the impression, at times, to be looking at something written in the seventeenth or eighteenth century.

Yet I was glad to see, as I elbowed my way towards the front of the bar during the intermissions, that there are still many people who can appreciate this art form – not all of them silver-haired, which is even more encouraging.


1 comment:

  1. What a day of contrasts this was! It is useful to think of how old some of the art music and writing we enjoy the most is - but then i gues that somethings deal with universal human concerns and are for this reason timeless - I could almost hear Tosca as I was reading your post!

    Thanks for sharing



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