Watching tennis is a good way of spending time when afflicted by such enervating and unpleasant conditions. Some of us have been grumbling about the incessant blathering of the commentators, who obviously love the sound of their own voices and who do not know when to shut up. Protesting Letters to the Editor have been abounding, and if my lurgy had been less severe, I might well have joined in.
Our National Day, Australia Day, was on Saturday, and was duly celebrated in myriad ways, but today was the actual public holiday. I don't know what the weather was like when Captain Cook landed, but very frequently we are beset by violent weather and storms, and thus it is this year. After many very serious bushfires, many of which continue to burn, there have been many downpours and consequent floods. Queensland, which only two years ago, had dreadful floods, is again afflicted and the rain and winds are heading south, with heavy rain and storms predicted overnight. Generally my small area seems to miss out on much of the bad weather, for which I am thankful, but it could well be a wild night, and the rain is pouring down now. I have torches all prepared just in case of power failure.
Never let it be thought that I sit idly around (watching tennis) all day. A kind friend organised tickets to a dress rehearsal of Il Trovatore at the Sydney Opera House for Saturday. This was a great treat. Generally I sit quietly at home on such public holidays, but not on this Saturday. Everyone, it seemed, was out and about that day, mostly at Circular Quay. There are various events such as a ferry race. Ferries do not go very fast, but apparently it is all most exciting. Then there are lots of boats - what verb to use? - Flitting? No. Dashing? No. Sailing, speeding, skipping, bouncing and manoeuvring will have to suffice. Heaps of people had flags painted on to their faces. And there was probably a large alcohol consumption happening.
My friend and I enjoyed the dress rehearsal. Wonderful singing and glorious music, with the principals mostly from New York's Metropolitan Opera. Although I do wonder about opera and theatrical producers and why, in many cases, they Cannot Let Well Alone. This production of Il Trovatore was updated to the period of the Spanish Civil War, and although it made the point of civil turmoil, many of the other factors, such as the belief in witchcraft, to me did not seem to be successfully transposed. I am a stickler for historical factual accuracy of the period, and for understanding the culture and mores of the times. It seems to me that many producers are too young, too historically ignorant and somewhat too obsessed by trying to draw parallels with the present, and thus often the power of the original is greatly reduced or lost. It ought not to be like having a pie shoved in the face.
Recently I went to see the Metropolitan Opera's film of Un Ballo in Maschera, a production which was also rather mucked around with. I had somewhat more sympathy for fiddling around with this opera, because of all the changes that Verdi had to make to get it through the censors, which meant he was unable to present the historical reality, because it (shock, horror) dealt with the assassination of a king. And you could not at that politically turbulent times have theatrical events presenting this as a possibility, lest it inflame the plebs. And thereby cause yet another popular uprising and revolution.
But I don't think I want to go the the production here, as it seems that the whole cast will be wearing face masks and blond wigs for the whole performance, rather than masks at the actual ball scene in the last act. It is probably not a good idea to go along to something if you are going to sigh and grumble and disapprove. Instead I will sit at home and play the CD and continue to be a purist.
This has all reminded me that I have a DVD of Don Giovanni with Peter Sellars, set, I think, in Chicago, with a black cast. I tried to watch it, but found I could not tolerate it. For me it did not work. Dramatic licence should only go so far. This DVD will have to join the pile of things which will be free to good home.