“New top?” I asked Ro. “No” he replied. “Oh, ’cause I haven’t seen it before.” “Um, yes, you have, actually. Because that’s what you said last time you saw it.”
“Oh, bum. Really?” “Yeah, a couple of months ago.” “Oh well…”
I’ve had a fabulous day. It started a bit earlier than usual, as I’d promised to help Al set up the shop at 8 o’clock, but could only stay til 8.30. I stacked shelves with bananas, cauliflowers, aubergines, grapefruit – I do shop locally and buy local produce wherever possible, but it still gives me pleasure to see produce from all over the world. Pomegranates from India, avocados from Costa Rica (I think, it was 13 hours ago, for goodness sake) – it’s things that can be produced here and that are imported that annoy me.
I went home to change, put a Georgian wing armchair in the car (bucket seats? Pfft – not for me) and set off for Norwich.
I was going to a Study Day on Mozart’s opera, The Marriage of Figaro. It was presented by (please replace * with e) P*t*r M*dhurst, with a cast of six other singers and a pianist, and was an enthralling and inspiring performance. They did not perform the whole opera, but scenes of it, with initial commentary about the social background and the musical technique.
I’m not describing it well, I know this sounds dull but, believe me, it was anything but.
Do you know the opera? It’s taken from a play by Beaumarchais, a follow-up to The Barber of Seville, where a young girl called Rosina fell in love with a handsome young Count – her guardian plotted to marry her himself, but the Barber, Figaro, helped the Count to outwit the guardian and the play (and Rossini’s opera) ended with Rosina and the Count’s marriage.
The Marriage of Figaro is set three years later (I’d never realised it was only three years, although I’ve seen the opera several times, the Count and Countess are always portrayed as middle aged) when he has a roving eye again, and is after Figaro’s fiancée, Susannah. It’s a complicated plot, and complex too.
One thing I love about Mozart is his knowledge and love of people. He knows all about our self-delusions, our frailties, our cruelties, hopes and failures. He acknowledges and describes them, shows how far astray they can take us – and then he turns away from tragedy and lovingly forgives and accepts our weaknesses as part of our humanity, or maybe that should be human-ness. He takes us into quite bleak territory, but lightens it with comedy and allows his characters a happy ending, although with a deeper self-knowledge and realistic attitude to the world.
The chair was an essential prop for one scene and, being of the period of the opera, looked rather fine. I was quite proud to be, peripherally, involved.
I came home, voted (pillar of democracy, me) and cooked kippers. I demonstrated spousal and maternal devotion by filleting the Sage’s and Ro’s. They so appreciate me. They think I am adorable.