The fact is, I'm an ungrateful bastard, not to mention a terrible music snob.
I should've appreciated the fact that the girlfriend of our former badboy boarder invited me to go hear Luciano Pavarotti sing in Stockholm's big arena. And, well, I did appreciate going with her and getting envious looks from every man we passed - she's maybe an inch taller than I am, but her legs stop somewhere above my waist, and in her spike heels, she towered over me, ravishingly beautiful. (I used to be ashamed of the deep satisfaction I get from those looks of envy when I'm out with someone like the badboy boarder's girlfriend, or A., the TV producer, who was a model in Paris and turns heads wherever she goes; but, long ago, when I was briefly in therapy, my therapist questioned why I should feel guilty about getting satisfaction out feeling that people would think that I was a flaming hetero, and so, with effort, I just let myself enjoy it. No doubt, my sister-in-law would say there's something sexist about this. I don't give a damn. But, I digress.)
As I sat among the crowd, all I could think was that this was not my thing: Luciano, propped up like a doll, eyebrows painted and looking like a fat Dirk Bogarde playing Gustav von Aschenbach, his voice devoid of nuance, the orchestra lacking warmth and humanity (that's what happens when it's amplified in an arena like that), gooey Italian aria after gooey Italian aria belted out like chocolate howitzers rolling down a conveyer belt. And the soprano with him, a good 30-40 years younger than him, wasn't all that much better - too much vibrato and not enough precision for my taste. When I hear someone sing, I want it to be warm and human and full of emotion, but so exact that I can visualize the score in my head, right down to the portimento.
Still, I was touched when the man sitting next to me and his long-haired, baggy-pantsed, pimply teenaged son hugged each other rapturously when Pavarotti announced at the end that he would sing the Brindisi from La Traviata, with the audience singing the chorus.
The Swedish word for the day is uppstoppad. It means stuffed.
- by Francis S.