Friday, February 26, 2010

Tosca on match day

I had a funeral today, straight after the midday Eucharist, at Pidgeon's funeral chapel over on Cowbridge Road. A car was arranged to pick me up from church, but turned up late because the driver went to the Vicarage instead, and had to double back through the growing queue of traffic arriving in town for the evening's Rugby international. So I stood out on St Mary Street in the cold wind for twenty minutes, before the car arrived, and we managed to reach our destination and get started only a few minutes late.

After the service, I saw the widow sitting on her own in a large stretch limousine - all the friends and relations seemed to have come in their own cars - so rather than ride in the hearse I joined her and we chatted all the way to Thornhill. I don't think she wanted to be on her own. It just happened because nobody involved had given it much thought. It was cold and windy at the graveside for the brief commital ceremony, and I was pleased to see that a few friends and relations were alongside her when I left to return to church and finish tasks left off earlier in the day.

I was tired when I got home at tea time, but fortunately not chilled by the harsh wind. I perked up when Clare reminded me that we were due to be at the Millennium Centre for Puccini's 'Tosca' after an early supper. It's my favourite melodrama, and this time we arrived in good time to see all three acts. Last time it was on, we forgot we'd booked until half way through supper. We dashed down and caught the second and third act. It was basically the same production, different singers, so this time we got the full picture.

The end of the first act comes with the announcement of Bonaparte's victory over the Italians at Marengo, leading to a re-instatement of the old regime. There's a procession and Te Deum in the church of San Andrea in Valle, where the unfolding drama of the first act is set. In other productions, it's a procession of the Blessed Sacrament, with prelates in attendance. In this version, a papal procession was depicted - surely an error, as the church in question is well outside the Vatican walls, and not the sort of place a pope would appear in public within minutes of the death knell of a regime unsympathetic to the pope being announced. Annoying details - must check!

It took us half an hour to do a ten minute journey home, as the late rugby match crowds were hitting the road roughly the same time as we were crossing the city centre. Wales lost it seems.

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