Old folk at lunch

Monday, May 29, 2006

Sunday Night with "Don Giovanni"

A small memoir of a pleasant evening last Sunday (28th. May):

Even in quiet little old Brisbane, the 250th anniversary of the birth of Mozart is a big deal -- with many concerts in celebration being put on. The latest one that I attended -- last Sunday -- was a concert performance of the famous opera "Don Giovanni".

Anne and I went with another couple, Jill and Lewis. Jill is actually an ex-girlfriend of mine but in my usual way I have kept in touch with her. We have a very similar love of music -- which is a very significant bond. Both Anne and Lewis put up with that past with good grace as they understand the nature of the bond.

Before the concert I made a simple dinner of sandwiches for us all -- thick-cut Gypsy ham with American mustard, lettuce and tomato -- on fresh grain bread. Being a sandwich-lover, I know how to make a good sandwich -- though that is about the limit of my culinary talents. We had planned to have the sandwiches in the park adjoining the concert venue but the weather looked a bit overcast so we had them on my verandah

As a concert performance, the sets for the opera were minimal but the costumes were reasonable and the singing was good. As always, I particularly liked the bass singer (Don Pedro), who was very competent.

It did however have the casting problem that plagues all opera: Singers wildly out of character but chosen for their voices -- as it has to be, of course. On this occasion, Don Giovanni was a quite insignificant guy and not at all convincing as a great lover -- but he had an excellent baritone. And in an amusing reversal, instead of large and aging ladies being cast as young girls, we had a young girl cast as an older woman!

The concert was in one of Brisbane's old powerhouses, converted some years ago into a performing arts centre now that Brisbane gets its electricity from vast generators situated alongside equally vast central Queensland coalfields. The conversion into an arts centre deliberately retained a fair bit of the original powerhouse interior. The idea of that was undoubtedly "arty" but it works well enough and I of course am very much in favour of retaining reminders of how we all got to where we are today.

The most surprising thing about the night was the audience. Far from being geriatric, there were people there of all ages, with a good representation of young people. I like to think that we have the universal appeal of Mozart to thank for that.

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