Saturday, March 25, 2006

Still warm

It's been a busy week and is about to get busier. Gombert rehearsal this morning went off well, though the Gesualdo is hard work - so unlike anything else, before or since, that you can't relax.

The weather has been very warm and very pleasant; very nice for walking to Smith Street for the shopping. Tonight I had dinner at DG's with him and LH and DK - luscious pork and vegetables followed by stewed plums. Plus lots of entertaining and often silly conversation. L leaves for London and Vienna in a couple of weeks; I'll try and catch up with D while L's away.

"Wieldy", the gay detective from the Dalziell and Pascoe series has just turned up on The Bill as a drug dealer. He must be desperate for work; not a bad performance, actually.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Hans Heiling (at last)

Always the one for the obscure I managed to track down a DVD of a performance of Marschner's Hans Heiling, usually considered the composer's masterpiece (though I prefer Der Vampyr). It arrived today and I'm sitting watching it as I write.

It's a production from the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari (on Sardinia) and it's not bad at all. Heiling is sung by quite a young baritone (Markus Werba) which makes more sense than the older singers on my recordings. The first scene, unusually before the overture, in the underworld where Heiling's mother, the Queen of the Spirits, begs him not to return to the earth is perhaps a little too red, but generally the sets are fairly minimal, but not bad; Heiling's study could double for that of Doktor Faust. The costumes are a bit ordinary, especially Heiling's unfortunate leotard; thankfully when he gets above ground he covers his modesty, though unfortunately with a frilly red shirt. The sound and vision are OK; the orchestra plays well and so far the rest of the cast is pretty good.

Marschner wrote many operas, most of which never now see the light of day. A pity, because if they are all as enjoyable as this and Vampyr they would brighten up the dreary fare we regularly get presented with by Opera Australia. The end of Act one with Anna running off to dance with Konrad and all the villagers to an insistent off-stage band is a wonderful scene, finishing with Heiling's realisation that she doesn't love him - as the dance swirls on.

Der Vampyr next, please.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

A busy weekend

DG came for dinner last night and we had a good catch up - I'll be seeing hem again next week as he's invited me to dinner with LH & DK before LH heads off overseas. There's a lot of it about.

Today I went to Mum's for lunch and took her a book of three Inspector Morse stories. Ian had given her a book as well so she's got plenty to read for a while. As I was just about to leave, nephew SP turned up on his motorbike, so I left Mum chatting to him. She had also had separate visits from RP and his mother S.

On my way home this afternoon I dropped in to see Dr D and the Lotus Master - I haven't seen them for a while since Dr D is not in my German class this year. Thursday evenings after class were always a good time to catch up. The city was absolutely full of people and the trains even stopped at Flagstaff. On a Sunday!

A busy few weeks coming up with rehearsals for all sorts of things, and even a few concerts thrown in for good measure. It never rains but it pours.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

My week

For almost everyone else in Melbourne the high point of the week would have been the opening of the Commonwealth Games but as I was working on Wednesday evening I missed it all. I can't say I'm too disappointed, though I would like to have seen the flying tram. Though the designers must have used an out-of-date Melway as according to a picture in Thursday's Age the map on the the floor showed CAE as still being in Flinders Street - it's been in Flinders Lane for at least three(?) years.

The week has been a little strange because of B&P's absence - they seem to be having fun according to B's blog. On Tuesday I wandered down to CAE for my German class only to discover that we're on a two-week break to coincide with the Games-adjusted school holidays.

I caught up with MG on Wednesday and nephew R came for dinner on Thursday. I manged to get up to Smith Street early this morning for the shopping. DG is coming to dinner tonight.

Yesterday was Mum's 93rd birthday - I'll see her tomorrow.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Much better now, thank you

Compared to its start the rest of the week was fine. Tuesday was stressed at work so I skipped German class to have a tasty meal chez B&P - I didn't even feel guilty about it.

The weather has warmed up again this week (it's 38 today) so I had a nice walk before work on Wednesday. On Thursday evening DMR and I had a nice chatty meal in Victoria St; it was nice to catch up after so long.

Friday night was the last in Melbourne for P&B so I had to go and help them finish off all their yummy leftovers - I left with a plastic bag full of dips and cheese which will keep me in lunches until they return. They flew out yesterday morning and will be back in late April.

Their departure meant that I had to shop on my own yesterday; thank goodness RP mended the jeep when he did. It was my first outing since its return and it discharged its duties admirably.

Last night BN came for dinner and we spent most of the evening watching the Salzburg Festival Trojans I bought last week. It's got a few annoying aspects but overall it's a sensible (at times moving) production with some terrific performances. Jon Villars as Enée looks the part as well as sounding it.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Grumpy Frank

Not a good start to the week: after a night of fitful sleep I was woken this morning (before 7am) by loud thumping. In my bleary state I realised that it wasn't as I first thought my next-door neighbour using some form of get-fit apparatus, but rather someone playing very loud doof-doof music(!)... in the bedroom directly over the fence from mine, AT SEVEN AM!

Those who know me will be surprised I did not go and complain - I'll wait and see if there's a repeat tomorrow.

Then after waiting about five minutes on the station it was announcee that the next train had been cancelled. Knowing this meant that the following train would be packed I walked to Victoria Street, where I caught a tram. Unfortunately when the tram reached the St Vincent's interchange the line was blocked by a dead W-class which was being used on the Latrobe Street shuttle. So I walked to Nicholson Street where I caught a tram which took me close enough to work. What normally takes 20 minutes took close to 50.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Too much food

It's been a busy weekend. It started on Saturday morning with lunch at the Retreat after shopping. After an afternoon doing not much Tat and I went for pizzas at the e-lounge (tasty as usual) before heading off to Xavier Chapel for the Gombert concert.

The program was of twentieth century works including the Poulenc Mass, Take him, earth, for cherishing by Howells and Totentanz by Distler. This last work was a complete surprise; a series of beautifully composed choral miniatures linked with spoken dialogues between Death and a range of characters. Wonderful.

The concert finished with Edmund Rubbra's Te Deum, an amazingly complex, and at times dense, work which was mostly successfully realised, though not without a couple of slightly rough patches. A very satisfying concert.

Another high point of the concert was seeing B Mac, now back in Melbourne after his and K's sojourns in London and South Africa. He looks very well and relaxed, and is pleased to have been asked to do some emergency teaching at MHS.

Today I went to Mum's for lunch as; unfortunately her pork crackling didn't but the rest was delicious. Then this evening DG and I went for dinner in Victorian Street as a farewell for B&P who head off next Saturday.

The weather has been glorious.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Today is officially the first day of autumn and my favourite season was kicked off with a suberb, glorious sunny day. Being Wednesday I was able to appreciate some of the gloriousness by walking into town by the river.

There were many others out enjoying the day: running, cycling, walking and just lying about on the grass. The river is currently inhabited by large barges with giant fish on them, something to do with the sporting madness that will soon take over this town. Pictures of the fish can be seen over at Faffing at Majorca.