Just don't mention the war...
I spent part of the day on a rainswept railway platform in Hemel Hempstead. Please don't ask me how I got there.
We had an excellent meal at Zilli Fish Too in Covent Garden. I can't recommend the place highly enough. That is a rare statement, given my record with restaurants. Friendly, efficient service and excellent food. Reasonable value, especially with a Tastecard, which is itself one of London's better inventions (waits for horrified contradictory voices off). Please note, I really did say friendly, efficient service - and yes, this is England.
We were away in time to ascend to the Amphitheatre of Covent Garden to see Alban Berg's Wozzeck. Amazing. Shocking. Futurist. I was too stunned at the end to do more than clap, it was an outstanding experience. Matthias Goerne was all I remembered - a thoroughbred actor with a commanding voice. Even the production, my least favourite aspect of British opera, was challenging and interesting in its own right. Pity about the lighting, which was incorrectly judged for the set and unkind to a few weathered faces. The story is of a man's humiliation, despair and, finally, the deathly consequences of his descent to madness. Not a cheerful tale, I grant you, but a memorable one nonetheless. From the programme.... "Wozzeck, a poor man, a worker, is forced to submit to the sadistic and humiliating demands of his superiors. Already subject to hallucinations, he finally loses the balance of his mind when he learns that Marie, the woman he lives with, has been unfaithful to him. He stabs her to death and drowns herself". The structure of the opera is mathematical and calculated in three short acts, each of five scenes. There is no key, only madness replete with Leitmotif, except in the climactic interlude in the third act. This orchestral interlude is, guess, in D minor. Good on you, Alban.
Given that it was first performed in Berlin in 1925, it makes a fitting end to the era of Wagner, with a horrifying glimpse into the Germany beyond.
I may be stressed out from work etc., but evenings like this enable me to appreciate my existence.
Posted by nathan at October 15, 2002 11:50 PM
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