Figures of Speech HOME

Home

2017

2016

2015

December

The month

Die Winterreise

Language Lab

M'learned wag

Close shaves

Solar Impulse

Fidei defensor

Suspending disbelief

Die schöne Müllerin

November

October

September


Discussion group

Updated content

Contents list

Site search

Blogroll

About


Schubert collection

Suspending disbelief

Posted by Thersites on UTC 2015-12-04 13:44.

The atmosphere in the opera house is charged with tension.

Rigoletto the jester had hired the killer Sparafucile to assassinate the hated Duke of Mantua and thus save Rigoletto's only daughter Gilda from seduction and violation – that tenor swine!

Now, job done, Rigoletto is dragging the sack containing the body of the Duke down to the river to cast it into the water and be rid of him forever.

Amidst the rumble of thunder and the cracks of lightning he suddenly hears the voice of the Duke in the distance singing his signature song La donna è mobile! How can this be? Whose body is then in the sack?

In panic he cuts it open to reveal Gilda, his beloved daughter, who out of love for the tenor swine has sacrificed herself to the assassin's knife in his place.

We feel Rigoletto's grief. No one does demented grief like a good baritone. Indeed, so demented is it that Gilda wakes up with all the bellowing. With her last words she tells her father that she has been stabbed in the heart but she died willingly in order to save the life of the Duke – that tenor swine!

Then she starts singing.

Lassù in cielo vicina alla madre…

Not just singing in some quiet, whispery, about-to-die voice. No, belting it out like the great soprano she is. It has taken her a ten-year career in many nondescript roles to get to this point and she is going to show us what she can do when she is lying in a sack.

Rigoletto: Gilda waves to her fans.

Gilda, blood-soaked, socking it to us from the sack.

Rigoletto: Gilda gets the boot.

Gilda singing from the boot of a motor vehicle. Me neither.

I look along the row of seats to my right. Women have tears rolling down their faces, are dabbing the corners of their eyes trying to preserve their mascara (some men too, I note). Damp-cheeked men are clasping programmes, tightly rolled. It's the same on my left.

It's always the same. I'm going to stop wasting my money on events like this. Why am I the only person in the audience who wants to collapse in laughter when a corpse in a sack bursts into song?

If only it just happened with opera.

Politically I have spent a week trying to suspend disbelief. I look around me and see only people moved by absurdities. The great thinkers of our time, the commentators of the national media, pronouncing with ridiculous gravity on the affairs of the world. Many thousands of people hanging around in tents in Paris discussing that non-problem, the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. Christopher Booker: 10 reasons why we shouldn't worry about 'man-made' global warming

As far as President Obama and the USA are concerned, I have no idea what they are currently doing or intending to do. No statements they make, no sentences they utter, even the stream of consciousness monologues emanating from the leader of the free world are comprehensible.

All the UK news channels and the collected brains of the British parliament have been earnestly discussing whether Britain should 'bomb' Syria. I've been trying to think in the history of the last two hundred years when and whom we ever decided to 'bomb'. We have gone to war with countries, we have attacked and invaded and defended and repulsed, but just 'bombing' a country has never really been an option.

It is as unsettling in its ridiculousness as the dying Gilda banging out an aria from her sack.

My life in modern society is coming more and more to resemble a therapy group with a steadily decreasing number of members. At least one of them can always be relied on when the going gets tough. Along the row in the theatre I glimpse a well-known figure who also seems to have as much a problem of suspending disbelief as I do: Peter Hitchens:Further Reflections on Last Night's Debate and Vote

And unlike me, he knows what he is talking about!