One doesn’t expect immediacy from music criticism a hundred years old but how about this:
“I have long since learnt to leave my commonsense at the door when I go to the opera.” Faced with Hamlet by Frenchman Ambroise Thomas the writer continues: “Mlle Richard never faces the other dramatis personae but tacks around them, looking at them out of the corners of her eyes and agitating her bosom with a tireless persistence that must be the result of long practice.”
Adding: “(Ophelia) goes to the water and drowns herself, in token whereof her ‘double’ presently appears supine on a sort of toboggan car, and shoots along feet foremost through the bulrushes to the prompt side.”
Given that Mrs LdP and I decided not to retain our seats for the second act of the following opera I was pleased to read: “In vain the weeping staff (of the newspaper the writer worked for) held out stall tickets for Her Majesty’s Theatre to me with imploring gestures. I folded my arms and said that if the name of Lucia di Lammermoor were mentioned in my presence again my resignation would follow instantaneously.”
On the working class and oratorios. “There are working men who delight in piety – who join the Salvation Army, or drag their unfortunate children evening after evening to dismal chapels, where their poor little imaginations are filled with eternal torment, vengeance, sin and the devil. Others there be who go to secular halls and revel in demonstrations that Moses thought the earth flat, and if any of the four evangelists told the truth the other three necessarily told lies.”
GBS of course.
Blessed Redeemer - 73,773 words. Now it’s going too quickly.