Number Nine Number Nine

August 3, 2022

On Sunday before last, having learnt that my neighbour at the SSO concert the Thursday before that had been suffering from covid, I was not optimistic about my own prospects.

On Monday I took a PCR test for which on Tuesday I received a positive result.  A mandated 7 days’ isolation at home ensued.

But how to isolate from D?

As it happened, uncharacteristically sunny weather allowed us to keep the house open and well ventilated.  I kept to my bedroom or the “study room” (this is D’s term: a translation from the Chinese: 书房; the piano is also there) and kept excursions to common areas to a minimum.  We ate apart.  D reverted to sleeping in his own bedroom rather than (as is his wont) the living room.  I used the outside facilities.  We no longer shared the bathwater.  (Usually I go first because I am fatter and like hotter water; D goes second because he likes a much longer bath.)  TMI?

Cut off from the world and each other, it was a strange time.

The seven days (now more) up, D seems to have survived unscathed.

Meanwhile, left to my own devices, I had a breakthrough playing Brahms’ Variations Op 9 on a theme by [Robert] Schumann.  The Variations are part of a famous story. In June 1853, Clara presented Robert with her own set of variations (op 20) on the same theme, No 4 from Schumann’s Bunte Blätter Op. 99 .  When Brahms sent his set of variations to Clara next June, Robert was already in Endenich.

Brahms’ variation 9 adopts the key and figuration of another work in Bunte Blätter, Albumblätter II.

The edition I play from suggests by fingering indications that the moto perpetuo semiquaver triplets be redistributed between the hands so that sometimes (not always – the suggestion is not maintained for the middle section) the first note of the bar is played in the left hand. After the first bar this is done by playing the first note of the bar as the last of a descending group of 4 notes.

I’ve been playing this piece, on and off, for more than twenty years.  My breakthrough was to realise that I could practise the triplets in three different ways, with the accent falling on the first (the normal way), second or third triplet.  I also rethought the fingering of the third last bar which has its own moment of cross-rhythm over a contrary motion broken arpeggio.

It didn’t have to be fast to be quite engrossing.  And soon it was even quite fast, at least compared to what it was.

There’s still one other passage in these variations which I expect always to need to work on.


July 24, 2022

Last Thursday and Saturday back to the SOH Concert Hall to hear the SSO on its return there after a two and a half year absence. (Actually, a bit over two and two thirds years since I was last there, when I did indeed kiss the lintel as I left.) I filched the above picture from Reddit.

The main item was Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony.  We also had a choral “fanfare” by William Barton.

My Thursday ticket, towards the western end of Stalls Row L was a freebie from the orchestra courtesy of my friend C.  This may yet do for me as he struggled with a shocking bronchial rumble which I have now learnt was the feared virus.  Too early to tell whether our mutual masks will have saved the day.  I’m not optimistic.

Aside from that, the other price to be paid was 20 minutes of speechifying, starting with a rather discursive welcome to country, and continuing with the NSW Minister for the Arts (making rather too much of New South Wales’ global reputation in the arts – who knew?) and then the Chair of the SSO Board (“world-class” five times).

On Saturday I was in my subscription seat in the middle of row U of the stalls.  This time we only had a speech from principal double bass Kees Boersma, which was mercifully relatively short.  I’m not a fan of speeches at concerts.  I hope this will not continue to be a thing.

Critical response to the concert has focused on the acoustics of the hall as a result of the renovations whilst the orchestra was away.

People have been complaining about the Concert Hall’s acoustics for years.  It’s only when I have returned from better halls overseas that I have realised how poor they are. That’s probably why some of the loudest complainers have been visiting artists. A friend who is a pianist now living and working in Europe complains about the piano sound in the hall.

I still wouldn’t pick the right hand end of row L as the best seat in the house, but I’m sure it is now better than it was.  The big improvement is clarity, mostly by suppression of the school gym-ish echo which previously bounced off the straight timber walls.  It felt like we were in a room with the musicians rather than (as has previously tended to be the case) a barn.  When the children’s choir raised their clap sticks in the Barton you could hear where each sound was coming from.  Bass and baritone registers were also more present.

By Saturday maybe I’d already “priced in” those improvements, because apart from clarity the overall sound did not seem so different from what I’m used to from the rear stalls.  Rattly sounds still bounce of the side wall – maybe more noticeably because the sound is otherwise so much more clear and direct.  We no longer get the funny echo which used to be cast by the horns from the wall next to and behind them.

Possibly the violins are the losers in the new acoustic because they have lost a helping hand from the general resonance, now reduced.

Peter McCallum, who generally sits a bit closer than row U, was in rhapsodies in his SMH review.  I mostly agree with what he wrote, and particularly his observation that “Absolute quietness in silent moments is a crucial feature of good acoustics and the banishment of rustling distractions is also remarkable.”  If the walls no longer bounce back to us every little fidget, maybe this is setting up a virtuous circle of attentiveness.  It certainly felt that way.

This remark by McCallum, however, surprised me:

The second movement [of the Mahler] explored the warmth of string sound and the delicacy of plucked notes where the abrasion of every players finger nail on rosined string could be heard.

And I don’t just mean the missing apostrophe.

Abraham and his seed

July 9, 2022

It’s never too late to learn something new.

Yesterday I spotted a tweet from our (still) new Prime Minister, Mr Albanese, announcing “warm greetings to Muslims in Australia and around the world” on the occasion of “the great festival of Eid al-Adha.” (Derivative link here.)

I knew about the Eid which marks the end of Ramadan. What was this other Eid? It turns out that this celebrates (thankyou WikiP, though WP says “honors” rather than “celebrates”):

the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ismail (Ishmael) as an act of obedience to Allah’s command. Before Ibrahim could sacrifice his son, however, Allah provided him with a lamb which he was supposed to kill in his son’s place because of his willingness to sacrifice his own son in the name of God.

But hang on! Doesn’t this ring a bell? Didn’t Abraham do something similar with his (other) son Isaac (pictured above in a characteristic soft-core treatment attributed to but it turns out possibly not actually by Caravaggio)? A famous Wildean aperçu comes to mind.

It’s hard to see how the two stories can be reconciled with each other. One version (I hardly dare say which) has much earlier documentary provenance, for what that’s worth. For a spirited defence of the other, see here.

In his seasonal greetings, Mr Albanese says:

The symbols and ceremonies of Eid al-Adha speak to us of the human capacity for sacrifice in the name of love. Of the sacrifices made by a parent for a child. Of a friend for a neighbour. Of a community for the greater good.

That strikes me as a triumph of interpretation. What couldn’t Mr Albanese make of the story of little Pavlik?

At the library

July 5, 2022

Sent to me by a friend.

Our brush with history

June 24, 2022

It was just before 7pm last night.  “I’m going to the library,” I said to D.  “Are you coming?”

For some reason D likes to come on these little excursions with me. 

I had two reserved books to pick up at Marrickville Library.  The library shuts at 7.30pm, so this was a trip in the car. We got there at about 7.15pm. Time enough, if not much to spare.

Usually at such an hour you can park with ease right in front on Marrickville Road.  This time, there were no spots to be had.  There was curb space a bit further down just in front of the fire station (pictured above) and Marrickville Town Hall (to its right) and I pulled in there.  D hopped into the driver’s seat and I headed back on foot to the library.

I noticed a few people talking to each other outside the Town Hall.

I borrowed my books.  This didn’t take long.  By the time I came out of the library D had found a spot in the carpark for St Brigid’s Church across the road from the library.  The church and school were all shut up and quiet.

“There must be something on at Marrickville Town Hall,” I said to D.  D was doubtful but it seemed that now we were out and about on foot he was keen to make something more of our being there.  We decided to go and see.

The street was very quiet.  There was no longer anybody standing around at the front of the hall. As we got closer we could see the lights were on and we could see a bit of action in the kitchens.  “Maybe it’s a private function” said D.

The doors were open and we went in through the empty vestibule.

I opened the double doors to the hall itself.  It was a magical moment – a bit like a surprise birthday party, a Thomas the Rhymer or Venusberg moment, or (odd literary memory to surface and I haven’t checked if it is accurate) the assembly of rebel animals in Prince Caspian.  The hall was full of people. At the far end on the stage facing us was Anthony Albanese giving a speech!

It turns out this was a civic reception put on by Inner West Council for AA as the new prime minister.  I guess you had to know about it.  We just got lucky.

There was food.  For free!  I made a beeline for that while the speech continued.

At the end of his speech, Mr Albanese did his selfie thing.  We are in this picture – D thinks we are the two figures just in front of the rear door. I think we might be closer to the food [back left in the picture].

I found the bar.  The drinks were free as well.  Mr Albanese came down to the floor of the hall and circulated, at first followed by a bunch of media.   After they left you could still spot AA by the clump of people waiting to speak to him. 

Not that there was much of an opportunity to speak.  There was a band and it started playing.  I had been minded to get close enough to put in a word for Julian Assange but I soon gave up on that. 

Politicians no longer have to improvise anything much by way of small talk when they “press the flesh.”  A joint selfie does the trick.  The AA caravan meandered round the room in a kind of slow Brownian motion of mobile-phone photo opportunities.

Last year we were walking near Marrickville Golf Club on a Sunday afternoon when we spotted AA.  He was alone, on his mobile phone (of course), accompanied by his (now but not at that stage so famous) dog.  My usual rule with famous people encountered on the street is to give them a break.  D did not share my reserve and went up and offered generic words of support.  D was pleased to commemorate that with a couple of phone pix, one of which he posted to Facebook.  The picture was almost deleted when Labor voted for Morrison’s religious discrimination bill in the Reps and against the Green amendments (at D’s insistence we joined a small crowd of very unhappy transgender people shouting rude slogans that Saturday outside AA’s electoral office) but it survived when, as things turned out, AA was saved by the bell and the “Christian” Lobby’s dummy-spit.

D got into the spirit of things and sought out AA.  D was a bit miffed when AA insisted on taking the requisite selfie (on D’s phone) himself.  It came out a bit blurry.

If that’s the biggest disappointment we face with the new government we’ll be doing well.

Postscript: topical reference at the fire station (spotted that night; I took this picture by daylight on a subsequent trip to the library):

A second Daniel!

June 14, 2022

I have managed to attend a few live performances hitherto unnoticed here.

1. Australia Ensemble 9 April

With P to this.  The program, strung together rather tenuously from composers with various anniversaries in 2022 (entitled “An Anniversary Bouquet,” was:

DEBUSSY | Première rhapsodie

STRAVINSKY | Three Pieces for solo clarinet


FRANCK | Piano Quintet in F minor Op.14

In a nod to covid, there was no interval.

I’ve left it a bit long to compile a detailed account so these are fugitive recollections.

The Debussy is for clarinet and piano.  What I particularly remember is the delicious pedal-washed carpet that Ian Munro laid down beneath the clarinet once the opening section got going, and the similarity of the ending to the Debussy violin sonata.

The Stravinsky pieces were for solo (ie only) clarinet.  David Griffiths played them brilliantly.  I feel they are rather pieces for clarinet afficionados.  They didn’t for me expose any particular poetic quality or association of the clarinet in the way that (Debussy was probably still on my mind) Debussy’s Syrinx does for the unaccompanied flute.

Robert Johnson on horn joined David Griffiths and  piano trio for the Vaughan Williams.  It is an early work and predates RVW’s Tudor turn.  You could say it was Brahmsian, with a touch of Cecil Sharp.  P was unimpressed by it.  I enjoyed it more than she did, but I doubt that we would be hearing it if it were not by a composer better known for other works.  The combination of instruments is an awkward one.

The big ticket for the night was the Cesar Franck.  I feel I must have heard it before, if only because it was one of the set works for the Sydney International Piano Competition chamber music round.  It’s a potent brew, full of semitonal-slide chromatic harmony which tends to get labelled “Wagnerian.”  I really enjoyed it.

2 SSO 4 May 2022

I was lucky to get to this.  I had been thinking of swapping some other concert for which I have tickets to get to it, but had let it slide.  Then at 5.30 I got a call from Lx, Dulwich-Hill-gangster and my onetime High School English teacher.  His invited guest for the evening had bowed out as not yet recovered from covid.  Would I like to come?  He was planning to meet friends out the front of the Town Hall at about 7.30. The concert began at 8.00. Actually, I knew that.

Would I ever.  I even managed to squeeze in a short nap.  I caught up with Lx on the train on the way in.  

This will probably be the last Town Hall concert I attend for a while.  They have been fun in a retro way and it certainly is a bonus that the train takes you straight to the door.  It’s a pity that the great virus ended up pretty well wiping out our few years’ retro interlude away from the Concert Hall.

The program, conducted by Miguel Harth-Bedoya, was:

JESSICA WELLS Uplift (Fifty Fanfares Commission)
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No.1 Simon Trpčeski

It looked as though the original allocation of seating was on a covid-safe basis.  For such an attractive program, attendance was still decidedly modest.

I enjoyed the Brahms.  Trpčeski took what I characterised to Lx (in an allusion he perhaps understandably missed to a 1977 school production of Bernard Shaw’s Androcles and the Lion which he directed and for which I provided the music for the scene where Androcles dances with the lion) as a “velvet paws” approach to the first movement.  I was glad to see that in the Tchaikovsky Harth-Bedoya observed the traditional approach of staying in tempo between the third (pizzicato) movement and the final movement.  It’s not always done and it really works.

For an encore after the concerto, Trpčeski was joined by Andrew Haveron Tobias Breider and Catherine Hewgill and they played the slow movement from Brahms’ piano quartet in C.  I’m all in favour of this kind of encore.  It’s a nice touch of collegiality between the visiting soloist and the local orchestral players.

The concert will be broadcast on ABC “Classic” FM on 18 June and I hope to listen to it again then or online afterwards.

Before the concert, Lx caught up with his friend, PP.  We scattered to our respective spots, and at interval Lx went to join PP and her friend in the foyer.  I sought relief from mask-wearing by heading outside to consume my frugally brought from home apple.  When we reconvened after interval, Lw told me PP had asked where I was.  Lx told her I was outside eating an apple.  PP asked “What is it with [Marcellous] and apples?”  This was a reference to an apple-rolling incident at Angel Place in 2018 for which I was responsible.  I had forgotten this.  I guess it’s a “you fuck one goat” kind of thing.

3. Australia Ensemble 21 May

With P to this.  Masks were still worn by all – not sure if that was by decree or simply a high rate of compliance.  Interval was restored though no refreshments were on sale.  Fortunately, I’d taken an apple.  They’re particularly good and cheap at this time of year.

The program was:

Ludwig BEETHOVEN | Trio Op.87 (1794) for flute, clarinet & bassoon
Peggy GLANVILLE-HICKS | Concertino da Camera (1946)
Stuart GREENBAUM | Easter Island (2008)
Johannes BRAHMS | Piano Quartet no.3 in C minor Op.60 (1875)

Lisa Osmialowski replaced the advertised Geoffrey Collins on flute (will he ever be back to complete his farewell?).  Andrew Barnes on bassoon made up the numbers in the Beethoven and the Glanville-Hicks.

The Brahms was the main fare for me, my appetite whetted by Trpčeski et al playing the slow movement at [2] above.  Even after such a short period I can’t say I felt equipped or even motivated to make evaluative judgment between the two renditions.  The circumstances were too different.

So it’s probably just as well I am not a critic.

Fortunately for posterity, critic and “emerging writer and composer,” Stephen McCarthy, was there and published a review. My title to this post is in his honour.

He writes (judiciously)

The players worked well to create a genuine sense of ensemble in Beethoven’s Trio Op. 87 in the challenging acoustic of the John Clancy. Sizeable wooden panels which surround the stage and part of the auditorium create a peformance space which is resonant but lacking in warmth. This makes it challenging for the blending of bigger ensembles, let alone smaller ones.

I’ve always quite liked the John Clancy Auditorium acoustic for chamber music.  Mostly I sit close but I’ve sat further away if I’ve arrived late.  It seemed fine when, circa 1993, I sat in the middle for Olaf Baer singing there with Geoffrey Parsons (a memorable occasion – how did this concert come to be held there?).  I wonder if McCarthy may have been an undergraduate at UNSW and endured too many performances at the JCA by student massed forces.

As presbyopia kicks in I find I am a less religious reader of program notes, so I encountered the Greenbaum unguided by any programmatic prompts.  I had forgotten even the title.  In hindsight, I think I would have got more out of it if I had been paying more attention to the program.  Isn’t that what program music is about?  McCarthy takes a sterner, Hanslickian view:

While the music depicts this [the rise and fall of civilisations on the eponymous island] with some success, the piece when considered on its own, is not quite satisfying. The programmatic elements depicting the settling of Easter Island and its subsequent overpopulation, whilst a powerful message, should not distract from the importance of evaluating the music itself.

It has become quite the rage for concerts to be given titles.  These can be a hook for publicity and sometimes offer some kind of justification for the items assembled.  I don’t know that the justification necessarily involves a very high truth claim – how aesthetically significant could it be (as in April’s Australia Ensemble concert) that every composer had some kind of round-number anniversary with 2022?  McCarthy is more thorough than I am.  This is his final paragraph:

Leaving the auditorium, it struck me that the concert title “Cycles” was only tenuously linked with the programming. Some established, truly cyclical works, from composers at the peak of their powers, more broadly representative of what the ensemble’s website called “cycles of time and nature with the associated themes of regeneration and vitality” might have created a better thematic fit. The night was nonetheless a display of solid, skilful ensemble playing, of music which was interesting if not an unqualified success.

He’s a hard marker.

Anna Dowsley wears the pants

June 7, 2022

Last Tuesday, on an afternoon impulse (and on the strength of a matter settled Monday and payment anticipated) to the City Recital Hall for Pinchgut Opera’s production of Orcades Oronsay Orsova Oriana Orontea.

This was first performed in Innsbruck in 1656 and put on about 17 more times before the end of the century.  It is said this makes it a highly popular work for the era.  A main source for modern editions is a score that was owned by Samuel Pepys.  Two or three arias survive in the repertory.

Anna Dowsley (top left in a particularly unflattering shot) was Orontea, a queen of Egypt otherwise unknown to history or literature.  I’ve mostly seen Anna Dowsley in various trouser roles for Opera Australia (Cherubino, Siebel, etc).  That’s a bit of a pattern for early-career mezzos.  Though in a female role, she still wore a pants suit this time.  I know jokes are no good if you have to explain them, but the title of this post is a nod to Kanen Breen who has had a bit of a mirror career in the opposite direction [tautology alert!].

Whatever it popularity in its time, Orontea counts as a bit of an obscurity.  The house wasn’t particularly full.  I don’t think it was a piece that carried the same “buzz” as some other Pinchgut shows.

The production made inventive use of the Angel Place space.  I particularly liked the fake proscenium and curtains which yielded two striking reveals, including one with Anna Dowsley lounging on what, if the auditorium were in its native garb, would be a decidedly precarious spot on the railing of the gallery behind the stage (it could be an organ gallery if they had an organ). I guess there was a bench up against the railing for AD to recline on.

Towards the end of the first half, Andrew O’Connor, (pictured top centre above together with the big red bed, see further below; photo by Brett Boardman) in the ur-buffo role of Gelone, took an incredibly expert fall down some steps leading up to the proscenium.  Or was it?  At interval I noticed a bit of stage-carpentry being done to the steps in question.

The orchestra was a small one – percussion, a recorder (the sole wind instrument other than the organ), Erin Helyard conducting from the keyboard and smallish string and plucked string ensemble – 8 or 9 all up.

The music was very agreeable without to my ears being very striking. That could be a bit of an injustice to Cesti (the composer) if it takes for granted aspects of the style to which he contributed.  I did like how Cesti slipped into a kind of easy triple time whenever he had a good tune coming on. 

Towards the end of the first half I found myself dosing off a bit, in a not disagreeable way. 

After interval things livened up again, and then disaster struck: the surtitles stopped working.  This was a shame, as a whole series of erotic reconfigurations and revelations played out on an enormous Bob-Carol-Ted-and-Alice bed but we were little the wiser as to the detail before the expected final double nuptials where everyone’s (well, almost everyone’s) wishes came true in a delightful tableau.

So even in a very slight and in truth inconsequential plot, I want the text. If anything, a comic plot made up of many twists and turns makes that even more important. Prima la musica can only take you so far.  I contemplated giving Pinchgut a call to ask if I could come to the second half the next night for free.

No need, because next day an email arrived, apologising for the surtitle malfunction and offering two free tickets to Wednesday night, the final performance.  My friend Cx, who had been there on Tuesday and received his email before I received mine, got two and offered one to me.  I had not thought to ask for two (silly; why look a gift horse in the mouth?) but had already asked for one.  So it was that with Cx and D I went again on Wednesday.  I didn’t sense that many people took up the offer, which probably goes to show that most Pinchgut-goers are more busy and important than I am.  (If you have a last-minute free ticket, I’m your man.  I’ve just checked my mobile phone call log.  On 4 May I went to an SSO concert starting at 8pm after my friend and onetime teacher Lx called me at 5.29pm after his intended guest had to bow out on account of Covid.)

I enjoyed Wednesday night just as much as the first time round, and and of course even more once we got to the bit where the surtitles had conked out.  There was a gratifying chaconne which I had previously not detected.  And I’m now reasonably sure that Andrew O’Connor’s tumble on Tuesday was a mishap rather than a pratfall.  Either way he earns my respect because he recovered from it so well.  He is a trouper.

D was unimpressed by the final half hour or so spent on and about the big bed.  It did feel a bit as though the director had run out of ideas even though I can see why at the outset it would have seemed like a good idea.

I have referred on this blog before to a kind of tradition of people acclaiming Pinchgut productions as their best production yet.  That can hardly go on forever and to an extent I suspect it is a bit of a trick of perspective.  I am not a critic, but I doubt if people will say that about Orontea. On the other hand, if that had been on the cards, Pinchgut would hardly have been in a position to make the noble gesture from which D and I benefited, so who am I to complain?

Signs of the times

April 30, 2022

On the fridge door:

Inside the fridge:

They haven’t had a chance to change the spelling on the packaging yet.


March 29, 2022

Musical live performance flickers back to life for me. If I don’t record it here, maybe it never happened. Some perfunctory notes follow.

With my friend and onetime piano teacher, P, on 12/3 to UNSW to hear the Australia Ensemble. My impression was a reasonable attendance – slightly reduced from pre-Covid times. The program (without interval; no refreshments on sale) was:

Jennifer HIGDON | Dash (2001) (violin, clarinet, piano)
Carlos GUASTAVINO | Clarinet Sonata
Graeme KOEHNE | Time is a river
Wolfgang MOZART | String Quintet in
E flat K614 (1791).

Tobias Breider (viola) made up the numbers for the quintet.

The Higdon, taken at a cracking pace, lived up to its title.

Guastavino was a composer previously unknown to me. The clarinet is such an expressive instrument and the sonata was very agreeable, rather more conservative than you might expect for a work written in 1970 – P and I detected an echo of Rachmaninov’s second symphony (it’s the “never gonna fall in love again” tune).

I enjoyed the Koehne despite its touches of what I think of as Reichism – rather a lot of repetitive writing – for the violins in particular.

In the first movement of the Mozart, the repeat of the exposition was taken. I approve of this. One advantage of taking a repeat is that it gives you the opportunity to get right any tricky passages which might not quite have worked the first time. I won’t say who this applied to in this case, except to say that I’m absolutely fine with it. That’s live performance. It often happens because a risk is taken – generally for expressive reasons – and I appreciate that. Maybe a slightly safer approach was taken the second time round, but sometimes it’s just a matter of nerves settling in.

On 25/3 to the second of two concert performances of Maria Stuarda by Opera Australia. Maria Stuarda was premiered in 1835, the same year as La Juive. Its style is much more accessible. I wonder how much of that is a matter of familiarity on my part – with the style rather than the work. Lucia di Lammermoor also premiered in 1835 so I guess Donizetti was on a roll.

It took me a while to adjust to a concert performance – at first I found it a bit disappointing and you are made a bit more aware of the contrivance of some of the ensemble pieces. Maybe the vocal soloists could have taken up different music stands from time to time better to reflect the dramatic interaction between their characters. By the second half I had acclimatised to the whole concert performance approach and was able to enter into the necessary suspension of disbelief to invest myself in the story and even the characters, notwithstanding Schiller’s distortion of history.

Current conditions of attendance at the SOH are that you must wear a mask if over 12 and show a vaccination certificate (I guess subject to possible exemptions). My neighbour commented a little sarcastically that there seemed rather a lot of people under 12, though I didn’t spot that many – not, to be honest, that I was looking around that much. In the orchestra, only the wind/brass players did not wear masks, and there was even one horn player who played through a mask, something I’d not seen before.

Annoyingly the SOH continues to restrict the means of entry and egress. So much for Opera Australia’s publicity which trills:

The Sydney Opera House is not just the most famous building of the 20th century, but Sydney’s home of opera.

Climb the Monumental Steps as the sun sets.

If you’ve climbed the stairs, you will have to go back down them to the tunnel beneath them to go through the various security checks, including a kind of x-ray check and even bag-check if you are unlucky (though their zeal seems to have abated a bit in this regard). Whatever the reason for doing things this way when we are on the way in, I don’t see the justification for keeping the doors at foyer and box office levels shut at the end of a performance. Strolling out onto the podium and descending by the outdoor stairs is for me an inherent part of the architectural design and the experience you are meant to have of the building.

From the library 4

March 29, 2022

Dispiriting, even if not quite on a par with Alexandria or Louvain. Obviously not my own picture.