Before I go any further, number 10 will no longer be a digit. I had to tell him about the blog because I think he might be mentioned a bit, so it was only fair. I sent him this blog and the only thing he wasn't so amused about was being referred to as a number... especially since it would always remind him that there were 9 others before him. Good point. So, after much to-ing and fro-ing and brain storming, he will now be known as Mr. Blue. For my closest friends and family, they will understand this reference, for everyone else... blue does not refer to anything risqué.
And so... You would have thought, by now, I would have learnt what not to do on a date... unfortunately this is not the case. Torture, in any form should be restricted, not thrust on a lovely unsuspecting man in the form of a contemporary performance.
Mr. Blue... Handsome, charming, generous, sweet, wonderful Mr. Blue was the poor victim of this diabolical date. It wasn't really my fault. I had read about this rather odd opera being performed at the Barbican and had torn out the details from a magazine. It lay temptingly brazen on my kitchen counter when Mr. Blue came round for dinner one night. He picked up the article, read it and said 'hmmm, this looks interesting.' Oh dear, poor man... he wasn't to know. Show the tiniest flicker of interest in anything I have suggested and I'm on the phone, tickets are booked and you have committed yourself to a night of weird.
The next morning I texted that I had indeed booked tickets but that maybe he should take a look at another review before he completely committed himself. The Guardian, one of our more liberal and artsy of newspapers, simply described the opera as 'bonkers'... A giant set of moving steel frames, 3 opera singers, a full screen showing a movie in 3D, accompanied by a very modern score played by the orchestra. To mention a plot seemed unnecessary to this particular journalist but I started to became a little apprehensive when another very brief review simply ended with the words '...and it's two hours long. Good luck'. I like a challenge and Mr. Blue was still game, saying it would be an experience. It was his first opera. Sweet, trusting man. Sigh.
We met in the cavernous basement of the Barbican theatre. Already, it was uncomfortably hot and we were both flustered and pink cheeked as we were hoarded into the theatre with a pair of 3D glasses thrust into our clammy hands by a bored usher, with the words, 'there is no interval and no re-admittance.' Oh my god. My worst nightmare come true. For a 2-litre a day water drinker, the words 'no interval' is the most evil thing in the world. Any regular readers will know how I suffered through the latest 2 and 3 hour movie epics. I whispered to Mr. Blue 'Oh god, I hope I can hold it'. He gave me a sympathetic look which only slightly masked his terrified expression.
Neither of us were wearing watches and it was very difficult to judge how much time had passed, but I hazard a guess that approximately 10 minutes into the performance, a sense of impending doom fell upon us and I squeezed his knee and mouthed the words 'I am so sorry' to which I think he replied 'F*ck' but I can't be sure. His expression was hard to read in the almost pitch black but I think he tried to smile to show he could persevere. If you have ever heard cats fighting in the dead of night, that may be close to what the music sounded like. I use the word 'music' generously. It was horrendous... climbing to a crescendo of screeches and falling to low moans. I watched the orchestra, mesmerised, wondering why on earth they needed to learn how to read music when they could have simply thrown all their instruments in a pile and jumped on them, to create pretty much the same sound. The 3 opera singers may well have been in separate rooms for all the chemistry they had, and when the performers look like they don't want to be there, it doesn't bode well for the audience.
The only possible saving grace could have been the 3D film but that didn't start off well either because one of the lenses fell out of my glasses. By the time I located the lens in my lap, amidst discarded items of clothing, and rebuilt the spectacles, the lens was covered in fingerprints. I took the glasses off again, cleaned the lens with my scarf and the lens fell out. I repeated this irritating process 3 times until I resigned myself to watching the rest of the performance with either one eye closed or blurry. I chose the latter. Not that it really mattered as the special effects were so dreadful they really shouldn't have bothered. Splashing water and a giant dying mosquito did not seem the best use of 3D technology.
At possibly the one hour mark, the lights went out and the audience, incredulous and overjoyed that time seemed to have flown so fast, let out an audible gasp of relief... until the lights went up again and the horror continued. I groaned audibly and reached for Mr. Blue's hand, mainly to see if he was still alive. He leant forward at one point and I seriously thought he was about to leave but it was only to remove his suit jacket as it seemed to be over 100 degrees in there. The audience stripped off to varying degrees in the stifling warmth, fanning themselves with whatever they could find, which at times was far more entertaining than what was on stage! After much sighing, fidgeting and coughing from the remaining audience, it finally ended. The actors and the conductor tentatively walked on to the stage with apologetic smiles and we clapped politely.
I have never ever felt so relieved to leave an auditorium. Mr. Blue looked like he had sat through an exam where he didn't know any of the answers but he was so polite and simply said "God that was depressing". I elaborated with a string of expletives and he looked so relieved. I then made a mad dash to the loo and when I came back, I said "You don't have to be nice, what did you really think?" He hugged me, grimaced and said "I thought at one point I was in the 9th circle of hell. I also think I left some fingernails in the chair". After laughing hysterically for a few minutes I said, "There is one good thing to come out of this hideous night... if you can sit through that, you can sit through anything, and I promise you, I will never ever take you to something like that again."
This ones a keeper.