Elder daughter (Professional Bleeder) is visiting. Grateful for her pop recommendations (The Smiths, Bowie) we force-feed her opera, not necessarily the easy stuff. Last time Britten’s Turn Of The Screw, this time Mozart’s penultimate La Clemenza Di Tito. A grey, bone-chilling day dawns and more opera beckons that evening. PB’s amenable but demands Don Giovanni because she “knows the story”. I have it on CD but not DVD. The phone-up radius gradually widens (Worcester to the north, Bristol to the south) and all I get is “Nah. Haven’t got that mate. We’ll order.”
Finally a treasure trove. Abergavenny Music offers a choice of four which I boil down to two. One has much beloved Thomas Allen as the libertine but Don Ottavio is Mark Padmore, a passionate tenor in St Matthew Passion but generally conceded to be the worst operatic actor in Britain. I opt for the 2008 Royal Opera House (Covent Garden) version with Simon Keenlyside in the title role, the slightly comical looking but creamy Ramon Vargos as Don O, Marina Poplavskaya and Joyce DiDonato as the two wronged ladies and a superbly mobile Kyle Ketelson as Leporello.
The last time we attended Covent Garden in person our two seats cost £176. The two DVDs cost £29, to which I must add fifty miles’ worth of diesel, an irritating expense since the previous day we gave in to another middle-class impulse and shopped at Waitrose – also in Abergavenny.
To drink there was a Wither Hills sauvignon blanc from NZ, once the most powerful form of that grape, now somewhat more polite. Plus a gran reserva rioja which was beginning to fade.
In the pic, the Commendatore is sending the unrepentant Don G down to Hell – an interesting moment of contemplation for all atheist opera lovers.