The last two posts were about Friday.
It was a rather “full” day in terms of emotions.
But, I had J staying and, on Sunday, as her birthday/Christmas present we had tickets for the opera. She had told me, on her last visit, that, as a teenager, she had got a scholarship for singing at the Royal School of Music in London but that her parents thought it would be waste of time and, instead, had forced her to go to secretarial college. She had wanted to sing opera.
I had bought three tickets. It was going to be her, me and, of course, F. But the gods did not smile on us and, very unfortunately, F couldn’t be there. I decided to offer the spare ticket to FfC, who has been going through a rather rough time of it, as late.
This was at La Scala, Milan. I’d been once before, having bought V to the ballet. We’d had seats in one of the boxes. He had the seat in the front and I right behind. But, should you be getting tickets, don’t ever get a box unless you’re right at the front. From the second row, you only get (in my case) a view of half the stage. For a concert or, even, I suppose, an opera, it’s not so bad. But, for a ballet, it’s truly disastrous.
Anyway, to be safe, this time I had bought tickets in the stalls, just about half way back from the stage.
F had said that you didn’t need to dress up. But, that didn’t stop some people. Next time I’ll know – dress up as much as you like! We were smart but you could have gone all the way.
We arrived about 4.30 and met up with FfC. We went in and I bought two programmes – one for J and one for FfC.
Just after we sat down, it started.
And then, just as you start enjoying the singing and the spectacle, someone coughs. And then again. They’ve got that awful, irritating cough. The one that won’t stop. I half expect the singers on stage to stop and wait for the person to finish coughing. The coughing stops. And then starts again. Obviously, this person has a problem. Every few seconds, the cough comes. I try to ignore it and I may have been able to but for one important thing. The coughing is from the person next to me. And the person next to me is FfC!
I feel two things. The first is that I feel so sorry for her. She’s been looking forward to this and it’s a really nice treat when she’s going through such shit – to be ruined by coughing. Of course, once you start, knowing that you shouldn’t, you cannot stop! And she can’t. I offer her a gum. She drinks some cough medicine. But it is being persistent. She just can’t shake it off. The other thing I think is that I’ve paid €300 for her ticket and, although she feels terrible, I don’t want her to leave!
Eventually, she decides she will have to leave the auditorium. She is told she “won’t be let back in” – but I can’t believe that!
Meanwhile, the opera continues.
It is glorious. It is spectacular. A translation of the songs, in English, is available from a little screen attached the the back of the seat in front of you. The set was minimalist but, to me, just perfect. I didn’t know the opera work but I had read a synopsis and it was a typical “tragedy”, of course.
FfC didn’t come back in.
At the interval, I went out for a cigarette, leaving J in her seat.
FfC texted me. She was in the lobby and, obviously, she could come back in for the second half. She offered to buy me a drink. She said she had had a cup of tea and felt much better and would give it a try. She had been watching it on a monitor. Apparently, at every performance they get 4 to 6 people who have to step out for one reason or another (but often for persistent coughing).
Although there was the occasional cough from her, she survived the second half. J loved it all which, after all, was the reason we were there. If I were rich enough, I would love to go more often. Ah, well, you can dream.
The finale was spectacular! Both in terms of the set and the singing. This was not some amateur affair (nor amateur prices, of course) and, anyway, we were at La Scala!
Afterwards, we went to a restaurant called La Torree di Pisa – not cheap but stunningly good lamb (my dish), so worth every penny of its expensiveness!
All told, a lovely evening and I would do it all again tomorrow!
p.s. also a nice change from the Friday, of course.
p.p.s. J got me to sign her programme the next day. I wrote a little message and then she started crying. You may remember Venice, last time. She does cry at the simplest things