Oh frabjous day!

by Chris Bertram on March 25, 2006

I had tickets to “Welsh National Opera”:http://www.wno.org.uk/ ‘s production of “The Flying Dutchman”:http://www.wno.org.uk/what.opera.106.html last night (my second trip in a week, having seen “Figaro”:http://www.wno.org.uk/what.opera.107.html on Wednesday). We Bristolians had been feeling slightly sore, since “Bryn Terfel”:http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/music/sites/brynterfel/ had sung the lead in Cardiff but had been replaced by Robert Hayward for later dates on the tour. Just before the was due to rise there was an announcement: Hayward was unwell and couldn’t sing. So now we get the third choice….? Not a bit of it! They had located Terfel on a golf course in North Wales that afternoon, put him in a car and rushed him down the M6/M5! Apparently it was touch and go whether he would make it in time. When the announcement was made the audience went wild (which made me feel extra sorry for poor Hayward). Terfel was, naturally, simply fantastic. A great singer with a tremendous presence. And a great guy … thanks for stepping in.

A Shameful Confession

by Belle Waring on March 25, 2006

Until recently, I thought that famous quote about the king and the priests and the entrails and the running and the explosions and the monkeys was from Professor Frink Diderot. I learn now that the source of the quote was Jean Meslier, whose bloody aspirations ran as follows: “Je voudrais, et ce sera le dernier et le plus ardent de mes souhaits, je voudrais que le dernier des rois fût étranglé avec les boyaux du dernier prêtre.” Worse, the form of the Diderot quote I had in mind was wrong. Diderot actually had this to say, in Les Éleuthéromanes, “Et ses mains ourdiraient les entrailles du prêtre/Au défaut d’un cordon pour étrangler les rois.” In a move reminiscent of a young Ben Domenech, however, one dastardly Jean-François de La Harpe attributed to Diderot the following version in his Cours de Littérature Ancienne et Moderne: “Et des boyaux du dernier prêtre/Serrons le cou du dernier roi.” Due to a distinct lack of blogswarms in the 1840’s, the error was never uncovered. I hope that after a sufficient period of contrition, perhaps involving live-cam self-flagellation, you all will someday be able to give my judgments about wankery the respect they deserve. In the meantime, Hitchens is still a wanker.