lawrence of australia is an old friend of enid’s, so named because he travelled overland from australia to berlin and most photos of the period show him with a towel on his head, sitting on camel/horseback in crapistan (thanks to carpetblogger for that one). all the stans not being enough for him, lawrence went on to run the office in kernib for a year, and enid thinks the whole eastern europe thing has driven him slightly mental. (and if he’s not loonytunes already, his partner’s just had a new baby, so he soon will be.) when he was in kernib, lawrence collected metro stations (at the last count he’d visited 36 of the 48* in the metropolis.
more to the point of this story, lawrence also collected operas. he tried to see as many different ones as he could to take advantage of a country where the average seat in the stalls costs less than one day travel card on the london underground.
this week, lawrence is visiting kernib. aha, the barber of seville is on, and a visit shall be arranged.
the man and enid arrived early. the trappings of the opera are great fun - huge cloakrooms with great brass tokens, chandeliers, boxes with babushkas to guard them, little bars everywhere serving a wide range of alcohol and little open sandwiches with smoked salmon or salami... which is convenient, as surviving the singing is only possible with lashings of crimean champagne inside you. at a quid a glass, you can afford to get totally arse-holed, and enid did her level best to achieve that state before act one.
the boys were well prepared: lawrence had bought the programme notes, and already had 78 operas** notched on his bedpost. the man had visited wikipedia that afternoon and done some swotting. enid added nothing to this cultural mix, but was no worse that the others at getting through the whole first act without spotting that the opera was in molvanian not italian. (or french, as the man claimed it would be. but we are talking about the cultural giant who asked what the "m" stood for in “per diem”.)
so, for those of you who would enjoy a plot synopsis from an inebriated individual who can’t speak molvanian, it goes something like this:
some people (dressed mostly in black) mill around a lot singing at each other. this goes on a long time. apparently one of them is the male love interest, a count disguised as a poor student - he wants the female love interest, rosina, to want him for himself, not his money. (he’s a very silly boy - what does he think men have to offer women except their financial worth? “tell you what, marry me and you can wash my underpants, clear up after me and get locked in by me.” “err, no thanks.” “i’m stupidly wealthy.” “oh, go on then.”) a fat woman appears on a balcony. you think this must be rosina, who is living with her guardian who has designs on her own money. (if she has her own money, why’s the count so bothered about the true love thing? she doesn’t need to marry at all, and frankly, enid would advise this course of action.) “rosina” sings a bit, then the first act is over. you rush to the bar for more champagne.
the plot’s getting hazier now. you weren’t sleeping then, just resting your eyes. the fat woman is back, writing a letter, and you think how rude you were being about her, because she’s not that fat at all really. a little later the man tells you that this is a different woman, who is actually rosina. you’re never entirely sure who the fat lady was, but she does appear on stage at the same time as rosina, so there’s something in what the man says.
the count comes in, disguised as a drunk soldier. he appears to have a bit of a penchant for disguises - if you were rosina, you’d keep your underwear drawer locked after you’re married. when everyone else is distracted, he passes a letter to rosina, but then draws attention to himself by singing about it. he is arrested, but then unarrested again. the end of act 2, so you rush to the bar for more champagne.
the count is disguised as a singing tutor this time! there is no end to his resources. more letter-passing goes on, during which some soldiers march up and down a bit. or was that act 2? there’s quite a lot more singing, but it ends as you expected it would, with a car chase and gun battle, uh, you mean with rosina and the count getting married. there’s dramatic foreshadowing of this, because all through act 3, rosina is wearing a wedding dress. “what, this old thing? well, i just thought someone might possibly pop the question, and i didn’t want to be unprepared. a count, you say? oh, all right then.”
the most dramatic event of the evening comes as the cast are bowing to massive applause. the curtain, a big old beast that’s probably the original for the iron one in churchill’s famous speech, come down and clocks one of the performers.
*these numbers are made up.