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Three for the price of one

There's a back-log of LJ-posts-I-wanted-to-make-but-didn't-have-the-time brewing in my head, so I've decided to just roll them all into one and get them out of the way! Here goes:

1. Gluck: Friday 22nd Oct. Went to see his opera, Iphigénie en Tauride, at the Grand Opera House, on the opening night of the Belfast festival. It was very enjoyable, and nostalgic for me as this was the first opera I ever saw (in Sweden when I was fourteen). It is unfortunate, though, that Gluck lived in an age when the aria had become unfashionable since, obviously, arias are the best bit! A sad loss, because the occasional ariettes he allowed himself were very beautiful. However, he did go to town on both choruses and duets (an especially effective one between Orestes and Pylades, when one of them is about to be killed), which I approved of heartily.

The production was by Welsh National Opera, and I realised that I had actually seen an earlier incarnation of it (as well as the version in Sweden) at some point, as I recognised the sets, costumes and choreography. Certainly, they said in a pre-show talk that it had been being revived sporadically for ten years, so it is quite plausible I could have seen it and forgotten in that time. It was fine: all very grey, to reflect the dismal atmosphere of the place where the action is set (Tauris, on the shores of the Black Sea), and the only splash of colour being a cloak worn by a goddess (Diana), who thoughtfully appears at the end to sort everything out. But I preferred seeing it in Sweden in an 18th century royal theatre (at the Drottningholm Palace) and done in 18th century dress. It made the music seem much richer, somehow.

Handel said of Gluck, 'he knows no more of counterpoint than my cook'. There is substance to his allegation, but then again, Handel was rude about everybody.

2. Kate Rusby: Sunday 24th Oct. Kate Rusby was sold to me on the basis of having a very beautiful voice, and so, it transpired, she did. It was a pure, sweet voice, very well-suited to the gutsy folk music she plays, and especially to the more plaintive ballady end of the spectrum. She also turned out to have a very endearing stage persona, with a wicked Yorkshire-flavoured sense of humour, which would have made me like her even if the music had been rubbish. I went to see her with my friend Cath at the Lyric Theatre, and at the start of the evening we were also treated to two 'resident musicians': one on a type of bagpipe which wasn't a traditional blow-in-the-bag Scottish one, but I couldn't honestly say what it actually was, and one on a violin. Also, a 'woman poet', who was as mediocre as that sounds. I don't really think of myself as a folk music fan, but then again I do love the Wicker Man soundtrack, and I thoroughly enjoyed this whole evening (excepting the woman poet).

3. Quantum Leap and Hercules. Since I got my cable TV package, I've been catching a fair few episodes of Quantum Leap, especially on weekend mornings. It struck me recently how very much the central tenets of it resemble those of Hercules: the Legendary Journeys (or of course, more accurately, how Hercules resembles it). Both feature a virtuous hero as the main character, who has been uprooted from his normal life: in Quantum Leap, Sam Beckett has been literally pulled out of his own time, while in Hercules, our hero has had his wife and children brutally murdered, and wanders round the world trying to assuage his grief by helping others (particularly against Hera, who killed them). The hero's sidekick in both cases (Al and Iolaus) is also, by contrast, a lover of good times, but basically with a heart of gold. Also, both Sam and Hercules have it as their explicit mission in life to help people, and put right what either once went or is wrong for them. And both have divine, if flawed, figures watching over their progress: in Hercules, his father, Zeus, and in Quantum Leap, the computer Ziggy and the 'god' figure in the final episode who turns out to have been driving the whole process all along.

There is no deep significance to this observation, and of course there are plenty of differences too: for example, Hercules is largely celibate in the earlier series, while Sam was regularly getting the girl at the end of each episode of Quantum Leap right from the start. But it's interesting to note that a similar formula was a success in both cases, and possible that Quantum Leap was actually one influence on the Hercules team.

Aaaaah, I feel better now!

Latest Month

November 2020



  • 24 Nov 2020, 09:10
    Ciao caro.
    Ho ascoltato la canzone Domine Salvum Fac su youtube. Ripete la parola Domine due volte dopo che segue Salvum Fac e non capisco oltre. Ma mi sembra che il testo non corrisponda del tutto…
  • 8 Nov 2020, 13:25
    I think just 'not being Trump' proved to be enough!
  • 8 Nov 2020, 12:29
    Yes, that's it. Just having someone in charge who isn't actively making things worse for the world is a big relief.
  • 8 Nov 2020, 11:34
    There are many, many doubts and worries. But still, there is an enormous rock of anguish that has been weighting on my soul since the first days after that monster's election which has now lifted.
  • 8 Nov 2020, 11:32
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