Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I walked 13,327 steps yesterday, according to my step calculator - I don't even remember what these things are called properly in English, so I just translated it directly from the Swedish: stegräknare. Some of those steps, oh, maybe 750 of them or so, were running from the Grand Hotel (where I had a tasty minimalist dinner of nettle croquettes that cost a small fortune) to the Opera, where we arrived a few seconds before they dimmed the lights.

Taking my seat at the Royal Swedish Opera, which is all gilding, marble, murals and red velvet, always makes me catch my breath, which is exactly what the room was designed to do. It's a kind of cocktail, whetting the appetite for the evening to come.

The entertainment certainly lived up to the venue. Peter Mattei, singing the part of Guglielmo in Mozart's absurd and misogynistic Così Fan Tutte, which I love because it's basically just heartrending ensemble singing, was all that I'd hoped: sublime singing, naturalistic acting, without a doubt the best acting I've ever seen in an opera singer - he was funny and earnest and all gangly arms and legs, in his ridiculous hippie garb and long hair that he repeatedly tossed back in perfect hippie fashion, sitting cross-legged and lighting a joint. He was singing superbly and acting like an actual living, breathing human being.

Beside me, the husband could barely make it through the whole thing: He is just not queer for opera.

After they'd finished the final sextet (complete with huge title cards, a trick stolen from Bergman's movie of The Magic Flute), and the audience had clapped along, which the singers loved, especially the little Ukrainian soprano who played Fiordiligi, and then the audience had given them a standing ovation, which is meaningless these days since every ovation is a standing ovation - whatever happened to audiences who boo and start riots? - after we made our way down the stairs and out into the fresh air of the evening, we walked the approximately 3,688 steps back home up Drottninggatan, breathing in the scent of the lilacs, which have taken over the city for a week or so.

You already got your Swedish word for the day in the first sentence, in case you've forgotten.

- by Francis S.

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