I was once again high up in the opera on Saturday evening, this time in Paris for Robert Carsen's production of Capriccio, now running until February 14. Here was a bird's eye view again, with the usual advantage of wonderful sound and perfect balance between pit and stage, orchestra and voices. And what a grand old house it is - and so good to see it full and at prices more modest that we have alas been forced to become accustomed to in London.
Richard Strauss's last opera has long been a favourite of mine, partly sentimental of course since it was first produced at Glyndebourne during my second year of employment there, in 1963 with the peerless Elisabeth Söderström as the Countess. But it is very satisfying provided you can follow the argument - and in Paris they kindly do the supertitles in both French and English! And the never ending ability of Strauss to spin out a melody at such length remains unique and, in my case, gut wrenchingly pleasing! So one way or another there is never a dull moment!
And it was good to do it without interval as intended. At Glyndebourne (as elsewhere these days) the hiatus came with the serving of the Countess's chocolate - and so the audience went off for the long dinner interval. But here the catering department was not troubled, and we saw the piece through seamlessly to the end in 150 minutes.
Whilst the cast was hardly a vintage one there were fine performances from Benjamin Bernheim as Flamand and Lars Woldt (Glyndebourne's most recent Baron Ochs) as La Roche. And Emily Magee's Countess did well the dim the memory of Söderström and Felicity Lott who were both magnificent in the role. And by no means least was veteran (he is my age!) Graham Clark as M. Taupe - really excellent. Ryland Davies had taken the role here in Paris last time round - that must have also have been a treat! Of course it was beloved Hugues Cuénod in the old days......
Ingo Metzmacher got the best out of the Paris Opera Orchestra - and that can be very good indeed. As as mentioned above the sound from the amphithéâtre is splendid.
Finally a comparison of the upper reaches of Covent Garden and the Palais Garner? It is a tie - anyone should be happy with either and they provide excellent value for money!
I am back in London tomorrow and off to Izmir in Turkey on Thursday for jury service. I am greatly looking forward to that!