Today’s guest picture is a steam train at Carlisle Station. My neighbour Gavin saw it not long ago. They seem to be running regular steam excursions to Carlisle at the moment. We saw one when I put Mrs Tootlepedal on the London train last weekend.
It was a very dull day on the whole today. It was raining when I got up and it rained all day until about 7 o’clock in the evening. By way of a little variety, sometimes it rained quite gently and sometimes it rained quite heavily.
Under the circumstances neither walking nor cycling held out much appeal for me so I did neither.
Sandy came for morning coffee and Mike Tinker dropped in for afternoon tea and between these two welcome diversions, I looked out of the window a bit.
You can see that there is quite a theme developing here but the rain didn’t stop the siskins trying to throw their weight around.
A chaffinch sneaking up behind a siskin seemed a bit disapproving of the siskin’s untidy eating habits.
We always end up with a pile of seed on the ground when we have siskin visitors.
When I wasn’t staring out of the window, I was doing the crossword or practising songs for the Carlisle Choir. I find it really hard trying to learn them off by heart. I will have to try and develop a better method than I am using at present. My present method is singing through a song three or four times and then trying to sing it from memory and subsequently bursting into into tears when I can’t get past the second page. It is not a good method.
In the evening, I went off to the Buccleuch Centre for a screening of Il Trovatore from the Royal Opera House. The singing was very good, especially the mezzo-soprano, Anita Rachvelishvili. All her singing was excellent but her quiet singing was really sensational.
This was a ‘modern’ production with machine guns and so on and the setting was like the curate’s egg. It worked well sometimes but it was also rotten in parts.
Fans of the old TV Comedy series “‘Allo, ‘Allo” will know why I was a bit distracted by the fact that one of the parties in the conflict had a little tank..
The perennial trouble is that the producers and designers have all seen these operas far too often and it would be boring for them to put on a production which the composer might recognise. I have only seen this opera once before, in an amateur production, so I would have quite welcomed a ‘traditional’ setting.
The subtitles are very helpful and make the opera come alive but they do put some absurdities into your mind in passing. When a singer sings, ‘I have no breath, I cannot speak’ and goes on singing for several more minutes, I can’t help raising an eyebrow. Such is opera though.
I should say though that I enjoyed it a lot, as Verdi’s music when sung well is always a great treat whatever the producer does.
There was a rather gloomy flying bird of the day today.