Saturday, December 12, 2009
An update from the lattice of coincidence
It's earlier this evening, I'm reading in the canteen in the basement of the Frankfurt Opera. I'm there to chaperone my daughter who is an extra in La Traviata, and generally enjoying the managed chaos and bustle of the place. A man with a cimbasso (that contrabass valve trombone required for much Verdi and Puccini and looking all the world like a design from the desk of Dr. Seuss) walks by. Two trainers with a handsome pair of dogs — who are to play police dogs onstage — walk by. A rehearsal pianist practices on a table top. The stage manager calls for fog to be readied. It happens that my reading has just reached Richard Taruskin's passage on Verdi's Wagner anxiety. There's a television in the canteen monitoring the music and action onstage and, even before the applause begins at the end of an act, the canteen-keeper casually switches the TV over to a broadcast of the Valencia production of Die Walküre. As singers and musicians wander in to eat or drink before returning to The Fallen Woman, some enter cheerfully humming bits of Libiamo ne' lieti calici only to be drowned out by Ho-jo-to-ho!-s sung by the woman on TV swinging around over the stage on a big hydraulic lift. Jeez, methinks, even there, deep in the heart of a house given over for an evening to Verdi, R.W. has once again managed to get himself unavoidable.