Sunday, December 15, 2019

Rubens and "Manon"

I was changing after a class at the Y Friday and said to a friend, "I'm on my way to the AGO to see Rubens - a bunch of corpulent naked women," and she said, "Why go to the AGO? Just look around you!"


Two viewings of great classical art this weekend, invited by friends, as both are things I would almost certainly not have been to on my own. Friday afternoon, the early Rubens exhibition at the AGO with Ruth. Have to say - have never been much of a Rubens fan and am still not. He had a marvellous life as a very successful artist whose second wife was 16-years old, but he's not for me.  Lovely to sit in the elegant members' lounge, though, for a cappucino and dessert.

Ruth's beautiful essay that she read at So True, about her husband Eric's death and her subsequent widowhood after 57 years of marriage, has been accepted by CBC's the Sunday Edition; she's taping next week, so she came over today for a rehearsal. What an inspiration she is.

Yesterday, in the pouring rain, to the Met on film with Eleanor - one of the great treats of our modern age, sitting in a cinema watching opera singers so close-up, you can see their tonsils. It was Manon by Massenet, and we both concluded it's really not a great opera, in fact, even more ridiculous than most, with event after event completely defying belief. BUT the leads were stupendous. Lisette Oropesa, an American with Cuban parents, was made for the role, and her co-star Michael Fabiano was magnificent also. It was very long, four hours with two intermissions, during the first of which El and I are our picnic lunch. If the singing hadn't been so good, I would have left after the second intermission. But the singing was exceptional. And when we did get out, it was still raining.

In between all this, I've almost finished my binge of season three of "The Crown." Except for the slow and rather dull episode about Philip's mid-life crisis triggered by the American moon landing, I'm finding each episode gripping, powerful, beautifully written and produced. Just a stellar piece of art, all round. Who knew Anne was so feisty and tough? We feel sorry for shy hesitant Charles, for his mother who'd love to work with horses and is trapped in a job she doesn't want, for his bully of a father whose own mother was crazy and neglectful. A profound act of empathy, the writing here.

Was just listening to Eleanor's radio show - haunting interviews about Primo Levi, the brilliant Italian writer and survivor of the Holocaust - when there was a huge crash. A picture fell off the north wall of my dining room, the wall adjoining my northern neighbours, and smashed and with it lots of the Fiestaware inherited from Great-aunt Helen. Ah well.
Today's lesson: ask my neighbours to let me know if they're doing something to their south wall. Also, do not get attached to material things. Done.

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