08 April 2008
(Half) A Night At The Opera
What with all the scribbling, childcaring, penury and other constraints too nebulous to mention, it's not easy for yours truly and his crew to be proper spontaneous, like this guy. Hell, I didn't even notice when the passport expired two years ago. Little things like last night help, though. Seated here at the desk in The Cut at 7.05pm, I decided to see something. But what... Bliss at the Royal Court? Sold Out. Ibsen at the Arcola? Yes, but not tonight... At 7.25 I was climbing the stairs at the Royal Opera House, to take my perch in the Lower Slips, misnomered for sure, as I had to fight creeping vertigo to concentrate on the half a stage I could actually see from my standing berth, priced at a reasonably reasonable £7. It was Eugene Onegin (in a production by the late Steven Pimlott), a work I only knew (past tense operative, as I couldn't remember anything about it) from reading the Pushkin, decades ago. But I warmed to the score, the performers were endearingly committed to the barmy enterprise of recreating romance among the pre-revolutionary Russian bourgeoisie, and there was even a comedy accident in a scene change that would have had the Whingers jumping for joy. The first act of three was enough, I'd had eighty minutes of lush orchestral loveliness poured into my ears, I'd assured myself this whole world of the operatic repertoire still existed, I'd witnessed the rich at their extraordinarily innocent play, and so ambled off into the Covent Garden night well satisfied with the improbability of it all.