Doris Day died today. She was 97, something I know only too well given her birthday was ‘celebrated’ for what felt like a week at the residential care home where mum lives. At the time I thought it was because someone called Doris had turned 97 and it was being hailed as Doris Day by the humour laden staff. I figured the actual DD was already dead. I was somewhat premature. And perhaps a little prescient.
Putting DD aside, the second half of my day was spent in the garden following on from the gardeners expert weeding. I managed to transplant my rue from in the middle of two stepping stones to somewhere a little less travel disruptive. One has to be rather careful with the rue, something I stressed to the gardeners which is probably why they left it for me to do.
I also planted up ten wildflower plugs into the now clear area just back from the Crazy Bed and before the banana tree. Hopefully they will discourage the other wild flowers (or weeds as we call them) from cropping up over night.
The day was so perfect, I also managed to work my way through the laundry, hanging everything on the line and feeling right pleased with myself.
Naturally we went for a walk after lunch and were joined by an inquisitive couple who refused to pose properly for my camera. Surprisingly, Freya took no notice at all.
The third part of my day was spent being pummelled with tragedy, woe and spiritual agony. I went to the (not quite live) streamed opera at the Maltings.
The synopsis for Dialogues des Carmelites could be summed up in the following sentence: Young French aristocrat with a nervous disposition is frightened by some revolting peasants and runs off to join a nunnery before, eventually, losing her head to Madame Guillotine. And it is as harrowing as that sounds. Warning: There are NO jokes in this opera.
Apparently it is rarely performed and it’s not hard to see why. I think it would be quite harrowing for the singers as well as the audience. There are no songs, as such and some of the music takes the singers up and down like so many cloistered, strangulated larks.
That makes it sound awful but it wasn’t. The singers were fantastic. In particular Isabel Leonard as Blanche de la Force who not only sang beautifully, but also commanded the stage with her presence, fear and confusion. And who could blame her with such an annoying brother.
I have to say it was also lovely to watch an opera with so many women in it for the vast majority of the performance. A bunch of Carmelite nuns is no place for men, I’m glad to say and, interestingly, by the time the men make an appearance it’s in order to spread fear, hate and bloodshed rather than the peace and quiet of the convent.
Poulenc’s opera is based on the true story of the Martyrs of Compiègne of 1794. They were a group of nuns who refused to obey the Civil Constitution of the Clergy of the Revolutionary government and were killed because of their faith. In the opera they sang as they approached the blade, their voices dwindling as their numbers were reduced. I’d like to think they did the same in real life.
By the end, I was completely drained and made my way home where I had to watch an episode of Brooklyn 99 in order to cheer myself up a bit.