Monday, September 12, 2005

last night

Gathered together on stage for the last Mitridate - a concert version in Madrid's Teatro Real - breaths taken and the baton raised, we were suddenly transported to a sort of Spanish Inquisition meets les Funambules. From the Gods came shouts of:

"No se oye"
"No se ve"

A simultaneous translation by a colleague revealed nothing other than full blooded complaints that Les Enfants du Paradis Espagnol could not see or hear and that they wanted their money back. Several discussions, entries and exits later we found ourselves. fuelled by a terror of eggs in our f-holes, attacking the first chord. Meanwhile, 150 happily refunded audience members spilled in to the nearby tavernas.

The performance was mesmerising, if somewhat faulty....

To be more precise, the men in the orchestra were profoundly distracted by the stage set-up. Instead of up a ladder behind them in a woollen Chanel suit, our delectable Swedish soprano was right in front of them, her buttock cheeks quivering with her vibrato through a thin layer of ice blue chiffon. In response, the accompanying quavers were being released prematurely and in all manner of inappropriate places.

Clap clap clap and it was all over.

After the performance we were painfully splintered off. A drinks invitation separated all the divas (plus our lovely continuo cellist but minus the continuo harpsichordist) from the arms, mouths, strings and reeds of the pit-folk and a bus waited to take us out of the centre of town back to the neutral bar of our hotel. 'Bugger that for the last night of a two month tour' thought a few of us and, dumping our instruments on our kind colleagues, headed to the Baja Alta for tapas.

Our search for the most littered floor (too busy to clear up this, apparently, is the sign of the best grub) led us to a beamed bar against which we squished to consume from the old wine racks and the well hung jamons and take a tour inventory. There, enveloped in the sensual charge of snogging couples, boletas, pimientos and light inebriation, I felt the weight of weeks of German and Austrian morality fall to the floor with the rest of life's debris, and a chord of home-bound sunshine sing through me.

Later still, four of us sat on a bench in the tiled oblong of a small flamenco bar. A guitar was handed round and people burst spontaneously in to the gutteral wailing of their music. Our flute player, still in his tight black concert trousers, chest hair sprouting around a gold chain from beneath his black shirt, found himself the subject of much excitement. Not Hollywood handsome, his thick protruding lips, hooked nose and back-brushed hair were dashing here and perfect for the part; so much so that every old walnut of a crooner that entered seemed convinced he was one of their tribe and begged him, in a torrent of drenched Spanish, to sing with them.

...And so it came about that this particular constellation of musical sheep baa-aaed itself to the Iberia counter for the last time, one group headed for Rome and the other for Paris. Two people with large white cello cases on their backs dove towards each other to say good-bye. Their heads didn't quite touch but their shells kissed and they flew home to graze with their loved ones.....

That evening, over a welcoming beef cheek and pig's ear stew in Provence, one of their names appeared from Rome on a worldpay statement. He had bought a small Provencal painting from the other's mate and thus a bridge was graciously laid between two pastures.


Blogger Dale said...


7:26 PM  
Blogger Jean said...

I love the expression on rh lamb's face. Hope that's approximately how you're feeling!

1:07 PM  

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