I'm off to Vilnius in a few minutes. But I just had to pause to write something about how completely bloody marvellous Bizet is.
Two things brought on this sudden rush of enthusiasm yesterday. First, I'm learning the accompaniment to the Flower Song from Carmen, which I have to play in a concert in Sussex in a few weeks' time with a marvellous young singer called Andrew Clark. It's meant to be a Spanish evening - OK, the Flower Song is as francais as they come, but we're talking Carmen here, so we think we can get away with it. I know the thing backwards by ear, but to play it is totally different: one gets under the music's skin and suddenly its immense skill, its perfect expression, its economy and precision of means and all those fabulous and extraordinarily original harmonies come leaping out as if I've never noticed them before. The man was a first-rate master.
Later yesterday afternoon I was on my way to an interview in Soho and was a bit early, so I settled down in Starbucks for some iced tea. Then noticed that the Muzak was being sung in French. How nice, how Euro-friendly, how refreshing, I thought - a French crooner, albeit a rather bad one. Then - oops - I recognised the tune. Pearl Fishers Duet, of course. Hence probably Bocelli and pal. First thought: how strange that opera can be deemed accessible to the masses only if badly sung and accompanied by some dreadful pootly arrangements instead of the real thing. Second thought: poor old Bizet, if only he could have known that one day people would be hearing his music in Starbucks in Soho. Perhaps, in some way, that proves my earlier point: the man was a first-rate master and his music is going to live and live and LIVE.
OK, time to go get that plane. Back Tuesday, ciaociao til then.