I hope to gain much pleasure from making fellow listers very envious,
especially by the name-dropping that is to follow.
A week ago I have returned to South Africa from a visit to northern Italy
with my daughter. The main idea was to attend an opera at La Scala and
this I have now done.
Thanks to fellow listers who assisted with information and moral support
in the preparation for this journey.
On 8 July we attended a performance of Aida at La Scala. The Director
was Franco Zeffirelli and the conductor Daniel Barenboim. I also had
the opportunity of hearing the audience boo a singer (Salvatore Licitra,
Radames, admittedly, only three or four people did this), and Barenboim
held up Licitra's hand like a boxer at the end to show support. Barenboim,
Zeffirelli and the two lead ballet dancers got a rousing ovation. The
Aida (Violeta Urmana) did a good job but seemed very tense and did not
smile at the audience. When the day before I asked Louisa to take a
picture of me by the front door poster she realised its sentimental value
and managed to procure it for me from one of the theatre assistants.
This, I hear, will be given to me framed to hang in my lounge.
We then attended a performance of Carmen in the Roman Arena in Verona.
The conductor was none other than Placido Domingo. A few drops of rain
started falling every now and then and then the orchestra members would
promptly walk off while Placido was still waving at them. This included
five harpists! Eventually, rain started falling again at 12.30 a.m.
just before Carmen was due to be murdered. Louisa and I then decided
to call it a day (or night, rather) and walked back to our hotel. I
must say this is the first Carmen I have seen where Carmen doesn't get
We then attended a performance of Mahler's symphony No. 2 at the
Teatro la Fenice in Venice. We had an excellent box seat just above
the orchestra. The conductor was Eliahu Inbal. The performance was
faultless. There were twelve trumpets, twelve French horns, two harps
and two sets of tympani. The soloists were magnificent.
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