Being a Tuesday, I was off to Portsmouth today. I managed to enter quite a few copies of Seapower books onto the system then headed for home.
Etymological note: As usually happens in the language, the words have merged into a single term over the years as it has become more accepted by those that use it. The earliest book I’ve entered was printed in 1869 while the latest was 2009. The single word ‘Seapower’ has only been used in the last decade while the term itself was used from the start.
I left earlier this week because I wanted to get home to the dogs for an hour before having to head out again because tonight I went to the opera. I had to feed them but I also wanted to spend some time with them.
The opera was at the Yvonne Arnaud presented by the touring Russian State Opera company. They are touring three operas all over the place and tonight was La Traviata so, obviously, I had to go.
So, an hour and a half after getting home (and after collecting the girls from Sue) I headed back out for the bus into Guildford.
Because of the bus times, I had to leave quite a bit earlier than I would normally but I figured I’d go and have dinner first. This caused me some deliberation given I was on my own and therefore open to anything. Would I have pizza? Tapas? Ham, egg and chips without the chips? Choice was everywhere.
I had sort of decided to go to the pub over the river from the theatre. I’d eaten there a fair few years ago and it was okay but, more importantly, they have decent beer. Then it suddenly occurred to me that I could go upstairs at the theatre and have tapas. It was a great success when we went earlier this year.
I left the bus (and the grumpiest bus driver in the world) and started walking towards the theatre. I didn’t get very far. Obviously, the only option had been Yo Sushi. I took a seat and ordered some ramen and a Japanese beer.
After a rather deliciously spicy seafood ramen, I headed off for the theatre and my seat behind the two biggest heads in the theatre.
I had an excellent seat in the second row, on the aisle, with what should have been an excellent view. Two chaps (they looked like brothers) plonked themselves down in front of me (and the guy next to me) and basically blocked out the stage. They were both very tall with oversized heads. No exaggeration, they were a full head higher than the (normal) people sitting next to them.
The opera (the bits I could see) was splendid. Actually I should rephrase that a bit. Violetta (performed by Valeriya Balandina) was beautiful and sang with great passion, almost bringing me to tears. I also really liked the woman who played Flora but there’s two singers she could have been and I have no idea which one she was, Svetlana Riabinina or Kristina Dovidaitis.
While Aleksandr Stolbov sang beautifully as Alfredo, I didn’t believe his relationship with Violetta. He didn’t look right for me. In fact, I reckon he’d have made a delightfully menacing Baron Douphol, his nemesis. Mind you, the Baron’s role is very, very small and he’d have been wasted. Still, I prefer an Alfredo with a simple country boy’s passion for the beautiful worldy wise Violetta and I didn’t think he gave that.
The one person I didn’t think was very good was the father, Giorgio Germont. Again two men took the role and I don’t know which one we saw tonight but I didn’t like him very much. His voice was a bit strained and, according to another audience member I overheard, was possibly a bit drunk.
To be fair, I hate the character. He is awful and largely responsible for Violetta’s death so it’s quite difficult to like the performer whoever sings it but even so, the guy who sang it tonight wasn’t very good.
And then there was the death.
While Valeriya was wonderful, the death didn’t really work for me. I blame the director. Still, die she did and was given a rapturous applause for it.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed what I could see around the giant head in front of me and headed home full of music and delightful tragedy.
The puppies were very happy to see me.