Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Countdown, and countback

In a week I will be flying out of here, and on my way to Italy, for three weeks holiday. This was planned some months ago, when my friend Anne told me she was going on this trip. I looked at the itinerary and decided to go too, and to have a few days before the group trip starts. I have never been to Turin, so am starting there, staying for several days, and then travelling to Rome, with an overnight stopover in Florence. After all, the train goes through there, and how could I possibly not get off? And see some of my favourite places once more, and do a wee bit of shopping, perhaps.

When all this was planned, I thought my case would be continuing indefinitely, but because of the legal settlement, when I leave, all those things will be behind me. There will be a few things to tidy up, and  more legal bills to pay, and some other uncertainties, but essentially it has been settled. I can get the financial transactions done in good time.

Turin has a notable opera house, and the night after I arrive they are performing La Boheme, which is the first opera I ever got to know. The singers and conductor are not known to me, but I am sure it will be splendid. After various technical hitches I managed to buy a ticket on line. It spurned my credit card four times, but the next day, it let me complete the booking.

When I was a child, the ABC did not, as far as I can recollect, broadcast complete operas - this was in the days before long playing records, believe it or not, but lots of arias were played, and we used to sing along. There was a programme which used to finish with a medley, which listeners tried to identify, and there was one medley in particular which took weeks before the last tune was identified. It went Da da da da da da da, on the same note, and listeners were mystified. Once it was identified as Your tiny hand is frozen we all said "Of course!" Listeners must have had to write in - no one would have telephoned in those days. Way back then!

Apart from the radio, my grandparents had a pianola, with lots of classical music on the rolls. It took a lot of pumping of the pedals to get it working, but was great fun. Then my grandfather, who liked to pick up second-hand furniture, came home one day with a phonogram and lots of heavy 80 rpm records. The phonogram had to be wound by hand. He gave one to my family, and it got used constantly by my older sister and me. We had gorgeous old recordings of Caruso, and some by Toti dal Monte.

It was possible to buy complete recordings of operas, on 78 rpm. One friend described how his father used to play Rigoletto. He picked out any record from the box and used to play them in completely random order. My friend said the permutations thus given to the plot were quite extraordinary!

When 33 rpm LPs came along, my parents allowed us to buy records, and La Boheme was the first complete opera bought. We proceeded to feast on Madama Butterfly, and I frequently used to play the Death Scene, with different and harrowing versions. Then we moved on to Carmen. And lots of Gilbert and Sullivan, musicals and comedy. All this was extremely habit forming, and to this day I keep buying recorded music. It has been and remains a major passion and joy.

So, there is a week to go. The final packing, the completion of my documentation,  checking that all the bills are paid, deciding which books to take for the flights, photocopying some tourist information, which can then be discarded as I go along, all these tasks are in progress.

On my return, all having gone according to plan, I will own the house, and will have freedom of choice.

4 comments:

The Elephant's Child said...

Have a wonderful trip and come home refreshed to a house you own. Magic.

VioletSky said...

Your trip will be so much more relaxed and enjoyable knowing that all is settled and behind you!
La Boheme was for a long time probably the one opera I was most familiar with. No one in my family listened to opera when I was a child, but I vividly remember a Peter and the Wold recording that I played over and over. It was instrumental to my recognition of various woodwinds.

Isabelle said...

Oh, that sounds just what you need. Have a lovely time. But pack some warm things.

Molly said...

Sounds like a fitting way to celebrate an end of all the legal problems! Have a wonderful, musical time!