Two interesting recent postings by Norman Lebrecht.
First, Anna Nebtrenko has been bunking off from Bayreuth in order to go to a family wedding. Both she and her also-bunking-off husband were simultaneously “ill”, but then put themselves all over social media, being not at all ill, in Azerbaijan.
Lebrecht is not impressed:
Today’s breed of opera managers does not contain many heroes but at some point – and it will not take long – one manager will stand up and say to Netrebko, as Rudolf Bing did to Maria Callas: get out of my house.
For Callas, it was all downhill from that point on.
For Netrebko and Eyvazov, it’s just a matter of time.
I did not know that about Callas and Bing. Blog and learn.
Second, another operatic superstar, Placido Domingo, has been accused of sexual harassment. No force involved, but definitely harassment. Persistent sexual pressure and not taking no for an answer: bad. If the suggestion is that saying yes may result in career advancement, that’s bad too. If the further suggestion is that saying no may result in career retardation, that’s very bad. Domingo is definitely being accused of the first two.
Accused. The comments at Lebrecht alternate between wanting justice for the harassed, and those wanting justice for those accused of harassment, perhaps wrongly.
At the old blog, it was quota photos. Now it’s quota galleries, because they’re so easy to do (at least compared to how hard they used to be to do). And just as I didn’t expect you to expend any more time than you felt like expending on those quota photos, so I don’t expect you to even glance at all these photos, unless you want to. So, click click click:
All of the above photos were photoed in Paris, on May 5th of last year, when I was passing through on my way back from Brittany to London. The weather was stupendous. Not a cloud to be seen. I love how weather like that, when combined with light coloured buildings and the automatic setting on my camera, turns the sky blue-black.
There’s a bit of a bias towards roof clutter. Well, this is Paris. And Paris is famous, even among normal people who don’t usually care about roof clutter, for its roof clutter.
Good night. It has been tomorrow for quite some time.
Yesterday a big gang of friends and family, me among them, heard G(od)D(aughter)2 do her end-of-year recital, way up at the top of the Royal College of Music just near the Albert Hall. It was terrific. If they picked her up out of the rather small room she sang in and dumped her down in that same Albert Hall, and replaced the pianist and his piano with a huge symphony orchestra going full blast, GD2 would have sounded great and entirely at home and in command, and they’d have cheered like crazy. That’s how good she seemed to me.
Immediately afterwards I of course photoed photos of GD2, but these photos weren’t that good. Closer-up, she was still in performance mode, but looking tired, understandably. Worse, I wasn’t able to get a proper view of her, together with the lady who was also photoing her.
Later, when we all went to the nearby Italian restaurant, GD2 was able to relax and enjoy, and this time, my view of her was perfect. She did a selfie session with the same lady who had photoed her immediately after the recital, and whom I had sat next to for the performance. “What a voice!” said this lady, when GD2 had finished. In the restaurant, she and GD2 sat right across the table from me, and more photoing occurred. I photoed this photoing:
It’s not that I object to the face of the lady on the left, who turned out to be a friend of GD2’s mother from way back. It’s just that I don’t shove faces up here without prior approval. GD2 has already said she has no objection to her face appearing here. Lady on the left has not said this, so her face gets hidden, same as when I photo any other photoers, without their permission.
Lady on the left has, it turned out, a blog, which I have already looked through, partly to see if she has photos on it of herself, in which case I could presumably put a photo of her here without causing offence. No photos of her there, that I could see.
At her blog, she follows a completely opposite rule to the rule here. Here, I say something every day, whether I have anything sensible to say or not. She, on the other hand, seems to follow the strange rule of only saying something when she has something she considers worth saying. I know, very strange. If everyone followed that rule, hardly anything would get said at all.
But I digress. My main point here, today, is well worth saying, which is that GD2 is doing very well.
Note the electric plug sockets in all the above photos. These sockets were all over the place in the restaurant, 4×2 of them at our table alone. I assume that these sockets are for recharging mobile phones, like the one being deployed in the above photos.
Today, the Official Designated Destination for my photo-expedition proved to be a disappointment. So, because I was in the middle of London, I then amused myself by photoing interesting vehicles, taxis and pedal-taxis mostly, but also this:
This lorry interested me because I am a fan of classical music in general, and of classical piano in particular. (My most recent CD purchase, for instance, was this CD of Rachmaninov Preludes. (Very good.))
But how do pianos get transported, when they need to be transported, such as for a fussy pianist playing away, who demands a particular piano that he is already familiar with to play? When I got home, I went to the website on the side of the lorry to learn more.
I went to the FAQ page, and clicked on the following question:
Here was the reply I found myself reading. It is a masterpiece of silliness, combining as it does uninformative irrelevance with sheer-bloody-obviousness:
The costs for transporting a piano or grand piano depend on several factors. The transport costs depend on the instrument, the distance between the place of loading and unloading, as well as the respective number of levels. For grand pianos, the length is also critical.
And that was it.
There was me thinking it all depended on which phase the moon was in.
The FAQ stands. How much does it cost to transport a piano or grand piano? A tenner? A hundred grand? Give us a rough guess, for the commonest sort of concert grand, on a medium sized journey. Or, give us an example, for a particular piano, making a particular journey from a particular place to another particular place. “It depends” is not, see above, an answer.
Perhaps this is their deadpan German way of saying: If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.
Although, I should say that I didn’t actually purchase Kristian Niemietz’s book about Socialism. I tried to buy it, at a recent IEA event, but they wouldn’t take my money and just gave me a copy. It’s very good.
Excerpt from We Now Know, here. Could have downloaded a pdf of the whole thing. But, don’t like pdfs. Prefer books.
There are more that I didn’t include. E.g. one by fake-antiques architect Quinlan Terry that is too wide. (Fake architectural antiques are a good thing. The world now needs more of this. Terry does them very well.)
Memo to self: A habit I must cultivate better is the ability to read a book, while seated in front of my computer, concentrating on the former and ignoring the latter. The internet is just too damn interesting. But books are extremely interesting also, and I love to read them. Or at least: I love to have read them.
Today I went on a photo-expedition, my first big one since getting back from France. It went really well, but because it went so well, it also went on a long time, and now I only have enough energy to show you two of the many photos I photoed.
The first, before I got seriously started, while still on the way to St James’s Park tube, is of a crane of one sort making a crane of another sort:
That’s a process I love to see, but seldom chance upon. And because I got to stand right under all this drama, I got to see also how bendy the crane was that was lifting the big bit of the other crane into place. (I also got to think how it would be if that bendy crane snapped and everything came crashing down on top of me.)
And second, when the expedition was basically all done and I was at W.H. Smith Victoria buying the latest copy of Gramophone, I also spotted this:
It’s good to see that Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules is out in paperback, and even better to see that W.H. Smith Victoria now have it as their book of the week.
And then when I finally got back home, I learned that, because Arsenal conceded a home equaliser to Brighton, Spurs are almost certainly going to be in the Champions League next season. (When I left home, Arsenal were a goal up, and were surely going to win, with disastrous consequences for Spurs.) Goal difference. All down to goal difference. Spurs have to lose 0-5 in their final game, and Arsenal have to win 5-0, or some such implausible combination of nonsenses that surely cannot happen – touch wood and hope to die.
Late yesterday afternoon, in Soho, I photoed this blue plaque:
At the time, I hardly even read it, because my eyesight is so rubbish. But I photoed a note.
And today, I was able to read this, about him. Smith. A new composer name for me. (I love the internet.) (The gap between the quality of my camera’s eyesight and the quality of my eyesight just grows and grows.)
Do you detect tiredness? If so, you are not wrong. I spent most of today transferring more stuff from the old blog to here, and suddenly, about half an hour ago, I could feel my ability to continue snap like a twig, which sadly included my ability to do much here of a more original sort. So, instead, of anything like that, that.
If you want to read something else added here today, read the first two authentic comments, that weren’t either me or Michael J just commenting to check out commenting, long before Wednesday’s Official Opening. There was Alastair solving this mystery. And Chuck Pergiel telling us how he feels about architecture. Sorry the delay approving those comments, gents. I only just discovered I had to.
There you were, waiting for a good time to con your way past the front door of my block of flats by saying you’re the postman, to climb my stairs, to bash in my front door and to plunder my classical CD collection. All that was stopping you was the fear of me bashing your skull to bits with my cricket bat, which I keep handy for just this sort of eventuality.
So anyway, there you were reading all about how my life for the last week has been complicated. But, I clean forgot to tell you that the reason for all this complication was that I was off in the south of France. Silly old me. I’m getting old, I guess.
Here’s how the south of France was looking:
Those are the Pyrenees at the back there. In the foreground, lots of little wine trees.
The weather looks slightly better in that than it really was, what with it having been so very windy. Especially on the final day of my stay, up on this thing.
Today, thanks to GodDaughter2, who is a singing student, I got to see a dress rehearsal of a new opera being staged by English National Opera called Jack The Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel. I had my camera with me, but these places don’t encourage photography, so I was assuming I’d emerge from the Coliseum with only the memories of what we’d seen and heard.
The story was, of course, gruesome, and GodDaughter2 grumbled about the lighting, which was relentlessly dark and depressing. However, the music was pleasingly tonal, drenched in melodies, and most especially in harmonies, of a sort that seemed, in my youth half a century ago, like they’d vanished from the world of new opera for ever.
Back in that stricken post-Schoenbergian musical no-man’s-land, posh music was thought to “progress”, like science. And it had progressed up its own rear end into unmelodious, unharmonious, unrhythmic oblivion, and because this was progress, no way back was permitted. But then, that was all blown to smithereens by the likes of Philip Glass and John Adams. Iain Bell, the composer of Jack The Ripper, operates in the musical world established by those two American giants.
So even though we were about a quarter of a mile away from the action, up near the ceiling, and thus couldn’t make out anyone’s face, just being there was a most agreeable experience.
And then come the curtaln call at the end, there was another nice surprise:
That being the final surtitle of the show, to be seen in the spot up above the stage where all the previous surtitles had been saying what they had been singing. So I got my camera out, cranked up the zoom to full power, and did what I could.
The curtain calls looked like this:
I was particularly interested in the lady in the yellow dress, on the right of the four ladies (guess what they all had in common), because that lady was Janis Kelly, who is GodDaughter2’s singing teacher at the Royal College.
Rather disappointingly, for me, was that most of the photos I took of Ms Kelly were better of the lady standing next to her when they were taking their bows, a certain Marie McLaughlin:
But I did get one reasonably adequate snap of Ms Kelly, suitably cropped (the photo, I mean) to remove Ms McLaughlin, whose nose had been sliced off in the original version that had emerged from the camera:
My camera now has much better eyesight than I do, and the gap seems to grow by the month. Okay, that photo is rather blurry. But there was a lot of zoom involved. I only managed to decipher about a third of those surtitles. One of the key members of the cast was black, but I only found this out when I got home and saw her in one of my photos (see above).
I hope a DVD, or perhaps some kind of internetted video, of this production emerges. And I think it might, because this is a show full of pro-female messages of the sort that appeal to modern tastes, and featuring one of the most spectacular exercises in toxic masculinity in London’s entire history.
I’m now going to read the synopsis of the show at the far end of the first link above, to get a a more exact idea of what happened.