les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Moving swiftly on

Our new neighbour came round to work on his English.

Poor lad. "You don't pronounce the 'r' on the end of stranger! Keep your tongue down! It's straenj-uh."

He can't help it. He's had a diet of American films since his earliest childhood. But he says he wants British pronunciation so there we are.

After a couple of hours of torturing the poor thing I let him hobble off down the drive and scuttled off to enrol Catrin for her singing lessons.

First the maestro. He was alone, so we chatted about Catrin, her aspirations and what she ought to do.
Then the office. That means writing cheques.

Then off to - the Opera!

A small baroque choir were performing "Rameau's" "Les Eléments Réunis" in the Femina Theatre in Bordeaux. 5€ a place and a small group of us were going from the International Club of Bordeaux.

Well the plot was somewhat unintelligible, but the choir was jolly good, the soloists were not bad either and once the oboes had warmed up the orchestra made some very pretty sounds. (Baroque woodwinds are tartars to tune)

We discovered the reason for the unintelligible plot. "Les Eléments Réunis" doesn't exist. It is, as the newspaper report put it, a pasticcio, a collection of Rameau numbers glued together with some dialogue in a vain attempt to try and make it coherent.

I think we have to cut them some slack on two grounds :

1) I'm not sure how coherent operas were at this period in France anyway. Weren't they largely pageants and masques, scenes tacked together for emotional effect as much as anything?

2) People often note that Handel composed Messiah in something like 6 weeks, a remarkable feat when you consider that it takes about two and a half hours to get through it. That's a lot of notes!

Sometimes people ascribe it to some kind of higher impulsion. Maybe, though there is a more mundane explanation - much of Messiah is pasticcio. Handel had already written it before. For example "And the glory of the Lord" was in a former life a movement of a concerto for two oboes.

Well, if it's good enough for Handel and Messiah, I'm sure it's good enough for Rameau and "les Eléments Réunis".

So we had a splendid evening, the company got a standing ovation from much of the smallish audience and I am listening to Rameau.

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