Thursday, June 06, 2013

Sun and singing!

The calm before the storm. 

Yesterday was one of those days when there was too much to be done to make a start on anything and the amount of work didn’t really fit into the time available.  But it was at times like that that I remembered the wisdom of my colleague David whose soothing words in times of crisis came back to me, “Stephen, it will get done!” – and to be fair it always has got done and there was no reason to suppose that yesterday would have been any different from all the other chaos filled days. 

Chaos, I might add, self-inflicted by unreasonable demands on limited time by a self regulating school which could, if it chose to do so, arrange things very differently.  But they don’t.

And, sure enough, all the work did get done and with a frightening synchronicity the head of department turned up at the exact moment when I had put the last result into the computer! 

I don’t know whether to be flattered or annoyed at her assumption that I would get the marking done in double quick time – a function of getting the horrible stuff done with the efficiency of a machine when I have to!  Anyway, the marks (such a they were) are now safely with the powers that be and are still in their raw state before the computational and administrative magic has been applied to produce the final results – a process which I now regard with the same sort of weary resignation that I afford the system of politics in this country!

The pre opera time was taken up with a large (and very welcome) glass of G&T in a central street café near Suzanne’s place of recuperation and then on to the environs of the Liceu for a meal. 

I decided to “go vulgar” and went to an Irish Bar near part of the University where I had a club sandwich, a glass of Irish “red” beer as the next best thing to a pint of lager and a hot chocolate brownie.  The sandwich was virtually tasteless, the brownie calorie packed with ice cream and foamy cream and the pint alone being excellent.  That little lot came to €15!  An absurd amount of money for what I had and indeed could have got on the Ramblas itself.  Though I should remind myself that my foolish “small beer” in the interval of the opera taken on the Ramblas sitting outside and watching the foreigners go by cost €5.50!

Added to all the previous expense was the fact that I went to the “wrong” car park to use the cut price parking ticket that you buy in the Liceu to make your stay a little less painful – and so my ticket was useless and that is another €7.20 I will not see again!

The opera itself was reasonably well done, L’elisir d’amore in a Gran Teatre del Liceu production designed by Mario Gas.  The set was functional and looked good with the overture being a time of the waking up of the town which was done with some style.

Musically, again, the orchestra under Daniele Callegari was excellent with the addition of a stage band which was a welcome part of the vitality of the production.  The chorus under José Luis Basso was as competent as usual and their stage movement was professional and assured.

I don’t know if I am getting more demanding, but, as with the last production that I saw, I felt that the roles were under sung.  Or I did until the second act when Nemorino (Roland Villazón) came into his own in “the” aria and had the sort of audience reception that opera singers dream of!  In fact all of the singers seemed to grow into the roles in the second act and the (extended) curtain call with an encore from Doctor Dulcamara (Ambrogio Maestri) nailed it as far as the audience was concerned!

Belcore (Joan Marin-Royo) left me fairly cold, but Adina (Aleksandra Kurzak) developed a voice which commanded attention.  Ciannetta (Cristina Obregón) was competent and pleasing.

All in all a satisfactory end to my opera season and also and end to my “high level” seat as next season I descend to the platea or stalls for my next cultural injection!

I really must do a fuller survey of the hostals in the area to get a more comprehensive view of what I can expect to pay for my stay-a-night-an-opera approach to my future musical outings when I am not frustrated by the necessity of going to school the next morning!  This calls for some intensive planning, alas!  So that ain’t going to happen!

The pressure to get going on my double part assignment for the OU is ever more pressing and HAS to be started this weekend if there is any reasonable likelihood of its being completed by the deadline.  As Toni has upped the ante by his totally unreasonable results I am duty bound to “make an effort” to emulate his achievement.  Damn him!

I am fairly confident about the first part of the assignment but the second part is more difficult as there are vast lacunae in the life of the vase that I am supposed to be talking about which will have to be filled in with informed speculation!  Informed speculation based on about ten days of Instant Connoisseur courtesy of the OU!  We shall see!

On the positive side I have just been told that my august presence is not needed in the Departmental meeting this afternoon as long as I contribute some “creative” ideas for the use of the iPad as soon as possible.  I suppose that I will have to fabricate some sort of creative mish-mash and pass it off as possible pedagogy.  This is one overriding feature of this work that should make my task just that little bit easier – I will not have to teach any of it!  I am therefore limited only by how lenient I want to be with my colleagues!

Lunch was in our usual place and was as good value as ever but not, alas very interesting either.

The sun however is appearing with some regularity and I am cooking nicely.  Toni, bless him, says that if I get any darker I will start being racially harassed!  I have checked my skin colour against that of a New Zealand teacher and I am only marginally darker at the moment and he will inevitably overtake me as the summer progresses – perhaps it is just as well that I only have eleven (count them) working days left in gainful employment and that limits the time that he has left to get a more convincing tan than me – even if he does have a native built in advantage!

Toni has now had a (brief) swim in the pool only five (count them) days after I entered the outdoor pool for the first time this year!  This is unheard of and just shows how debilitated I have become with the dictates of teaching full time again draining me of that hardy couldn’t care less attitude towards personal warmth in the water that used to be a characteristic of mine!

Perhaps when I am back in the land of reality and away from education perhaps I will return to more regular swimming than I am doing at the moment.  And I will re-subscribe to The Guardian again!

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