Once again I am in front of a class and they are trying to complete a crossword which has been devised to aid them in their revision for yet another examination – the last (surely!) this year. Today is a solemn day, there is one calendar month left for me in this school. On the 23rd of next month I will be eating the seafood lunch and waving a tearful goodbye to my erstwhile colleagues!
At some point today I will have a ceremonial “Counting Of The Days” and then I will know exactly just how many 6.30 am starts I will have left before the wide and spacious days of my final retirement wash over me in a luxurious, yet impecunious wave!
This morning a colleague who has been on a structured gradual retirement i.e. working three days a week, came into the staffroom distributing largesse as she has only three days left and expressed shock at seeing me! It shows how effective my sloping off when my teaching obligations have been completed has been that she has not seen me during her own limited time at the school! One to me I think!
And because of various people going we had Cava with our lunch. That is what I call civilization! And we had arroz a la cubana – O joy!
I have been calm and collected today, not in a professional sense of course, but merely in terms of perspiration. There is nothing worse than going out in the evening feeling grubby and meeting up with the bourgeoisie who are suited and booted and dressed up to the nines and feeling like something from below stairs!
At the moment, who cares, as I am, as you know in an exalted altitude – no Ceri, not on the Upper Levels - but on the higher seats of the Lower Levels.
There is an easy indicator of your social status in the Liceu – just look at the lights. If the light display has nine individual bulbs in it you are socially acceptable, if they have fewer you are indeed in the Upper Levels and condemned to emit raucous cries of admiration at the end of a performance which you have only seen in the far distance! Roll on next year when I am in the stalls. Please God do not put me behind someone as tall as I am!
The performance I saw yesterday evening was underwhelming. This performance of “Il turco in Italia” was, in my opinion generally undersung with the exception of Selim (Ildebrando D’Arcangelo) and Prosdocimo (Pietro Spagnoli). The female lead singers were that sort of coloratura singer where technique is more important than musical smoothness. Neither Fiorilla (Nino Machaldze) nor Zaida (Marisa Martins) were to my taste, though in the second act I did warm to the singers more as their voices warmed up.
The staging (Cristof Loy) was that sort of jokey hokum that only goes down well with opera audiences who will laugh at anything in sheer relief! The curtain was up before the start of the performance with a lone caravan on stage. As the opening after the overture was a chorus of gypsies I had a dreadful feeling that the whole of the chorus was going to emerge (to general operatic hilarity) from one small caravan. Which they did – and a general gloom settled on my mind!
To be fair there were some nice moment among the naff – of which the arrival of the Turk via flying carpet was not one of them.
The orchestra under Victor Pablo Pèrez was, as usual, excellent and the chorus under José Luis Basso was stirring and eventful.
This was a production which failed to enthuse me about the musical quality of the opera and left me looking forward to The Elixir of Love which is my final show of this season.
On the way home at midnight I counted the traffic lights and this time they were 8-28 green in my favour. That means that there are 36 sets of traffic lights before I hit the motorway for home. Grotesque! Though imagine if they had all been against me. I wouldn’t have made it and would have had to turn around and go straight to school before I had managed to make home.