I am happily buried in the French countryside far from the cares of the opera world. But I am interrupting this to record here my great sadness, and that of so many of our friends, at the death on Wednesday of Alan Stone, founder of COT (in 1974) and a one off personality of ever there was one. And it is only remarkable people that get things done, people who completely disregard conventional wisdom and have a vision which defies the usual naysayers who stand in the way of creativity. This was Alan.
I was so fortunate in having spent many delightful and entertaining hours with Alan when I first came to Chicago in 1999. We shared a love of champagne and laughter, laughter in particular about the nonsenses which make up the opera world. Chicago and many others beyond this city are indebted to him for the creation of COT. This company is his legacy and memorial.
Having been out of touch for the last week I am struck by the enormous differences in the way we deal business compared to a generation ago, before the days of email, indeed before the days of fax, when telex and telegrams were the rare favored means of fast communication in the direst of emergencies. When on vacation in the 1970s and 1980s I might receive a package of mail a couple of times to be dealt with at leisure, some letters to sign maybe (who even writes letters these days?), and some issues to reflect upon in preparation for a quiet return to the office four weeks later. What halcyon days!
We now exist in a state of perpetual anxiety worrying about giving an instant response to issues of comparative, if not monumental, triviality. It is not healthy…….
And as for the French countryside, this (left) is the view – click to enlarge - from the very nice little house we have rented for two weeks, across a field of wheat which illustrates so clearly the simple abundance of this part of the world. My Internet connection, which I only discovered today after a week here, is 20 miles away. Telephone connections are spasmodic and I am happy to be protected from the daily madness of our world. Having risen at 7 I am posting this on Saturday morning at 8 am in a café in a very small town indeed with an excellent cup of coffee and a croissant. Things do not get much better than this!
And for the next week we are looking forward to a judicious mixture of sun, good food, and the simple pleasures of these ancient towns and a countryside dotted with reminders of times going back to medieval and beyond - for example this 11th Century church.
We are back in London on Saturday 19 and I will then resume my normal blogging rhythm no doubt.