As a child I hated opera. I’d never seen any of course but the singing sounded both pompous and horrible to my ears. And from a young age I’ve been aware of the importance of enunciation. My mum is from Essex and used to pick up on my brother and I’s accents when they drifted into the kind of voice that might suggest growing up in North Yorkshire made you allergic to pronouncing vowels. That combined with watching Australian soaps and American comedies threatened to make us grow up utterly incomprehensible. So I couldn’t understand the appeal of singing that made the words difficult to pick out.

My interest in opera emerged slowly. First was through Pretty Woman. When Edward says to Vivian ‘People's reactions to opera the first time they see it is very dramatic; they either love it or they hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don't, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul’ I felt a desire to be the kind of person who let opera into their soul. (In my defence I was only 13 when I first saw it). A couple of years later I went on a school trip to see the Phantom of the Opera. By this time I was passionate about the theatre and the story whispered of greater drama, of powerful leading ladies and monologues of the soul. Opera was where it was at.

So going to see an opera made it onto my list of 30 things I wanted to do before I was 30 (yes, I was a terribly practical and precocious 15 year old). But it wasn’t something I set out to do in the way I kept looking for the perfect tattoo and made it to Russia not once but twice. I even hesitated when checking dates with the fiancé to go and see The Haunting this month and saw there was a single night’s performance of The Marriage of Figaro. I just wasn’t convinced opera was going to be for me and I preferred the potential of my soul to confronting the possibility that I might be the kind of person that could only come to appreciate opera. (I know, I know, it’s just a movie!).

Still, I suggested it to the fiancé and he agreed and The Marriage of Figaro seemed to be a good choice. It is an opera buffa meaning it’s a comedy. This felt like training wheels. When the overture began it was oddly comforting. I like my classical music the way I like my sport, I love it live and abhor it on my stereo or screen but this piece was familiar even to me. And then the curtain lifted...

... It was brilliant! It was laugh out loud funny and in the context of the theatre your concentration means you pick up almost all of the words (and even if it hadn’t been in English I think I’d have get swept along with the story as I do with ballet). I’m not entirely sure I can count is as real opera though as isn’t opera supposed to be, well, more taxing?

Loosely related to opera (in as much as opera is fantastical and he clearly doesn’t live in the real world) was Lord Young this week with words that will forever now be associated with him, namely that we have “never had it so good.” It’s got to be bad when a Tory such as I physically flinches! I’m happy to say I support a number of current plans; I approve of limited tenancies for new social housing applicants so that if their conditions improve they have to enter the private sector and I think that everyone capable of work ought to work and have long believed a compulsory employment scheme for the long term unemployed should be brought in. I don’t think anyone should get more than the average (earning) family income in benefits and generally bemoan the fact that so few people seem to understand that money for benefits and funding needs to come from somewhere. 

However, and this is the important bit, it is a bloody horrible time right now. The reason such ideas are so daunting is because the moronic party that screwed things up made people believe in entitlement to the things the nation can no longer afford. Ok so it’s partly the fault of those stupid enough not to have voted Tory over Tony in 1997 but he was youthful and shiny and you are the X-Factor generation after all. You hardly stood a chance!

I apologise. I’ll let it go. Obviously I’m worried that those lacking intelligence and understanding will reactively vote Left at the next election but we are each responsible for our actions and really it’s down to David to demonstrate that his nastiness is in actuality, necessity. If he can’t convince the country then I can hardly complain can I?

Still, whilst I have my views, times are bad. I’ve several friends facing redundancy and others that simply cannot find employment. I count myself and the fiancé as fortunate to have jobs and we certainly don’t take that for granted. Never had it so good? Well we’re among the fortunate but trying to get a mortgage has been very difficult and surely low interest rates mean that our repayments have the potential to soar? So we’re struggling to get money now and as things improve we’ll get stung with repayments. Ah but properties are cheaper now surely? Someone tell that to the Cotswolds! And we’re among the lucky ones! (We go to the opera after all!)

To my eyes, the world today is as swirling in confusion as any plot by Beaumarchais and I’m torn between my politics that my mind says are right but my heart wavers on as those close to me are facing challenges. Well, I loved The Marriage of Figaro and so what I ought to do is clear to me. I’ve got my eye on tickets to see Madame Butterfly in the New Year and will endeavour to think less on these difficult subjects.
4/30/2012 05:23:24 pm

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