Saturday, 31 October 2009

Evening In Belfast

Never let it be said that Timothy Belmont is not averse to a moderate dose of culture: I am a dedicated follower of Messrs Albert and Harold Steptoe; not to overlook Basil and Sybil Fawlty, I'll have you know. Today's "comedians" are no match for the Steptoes and the Fawltys, Ricky Gervase and Peter Kay excepted.

Bearing that in mind, I motored into town yesterday evening, having reserved a seat in the opera-house for Opera North's production of Così Fan Tutte. I'd hoped to have a meal at Molly's Yard in Botanic Avenue, but my plan was foiled when they told me that they were fully booked in the little bistro downstairs, despite the time being only five forty.

Instead, I indulged in a modest restorative upstairs in the Europa Hotel, which was was quite busy. There seemed to be some sort of journalists' function. I think there was a shortage of waiting staff, because the bar man doubled up as a waiter; and my table was scruffy, not having been wiped and bearing the crumbs of the previous occupants (attention to detail...). It remained unwiped for the duration.

Shortly before 7pm, I made myself as comfortable as possible in seat E12 of the front stalls, which is very close to the stage in fact. I prefer the dress circle. Still, I thought I'd give a different part of the auditorium a try on this occasion. The arms of my seat were almost threadbare, a sign of the eventual need for refurbishment! It's such a shame that we haven't the same largesse at the Grand Opera House as at the Royal Opera House, which is so sumptuous. I suppose it is unfair and unreasonable to compare the two.

With a fine cast of six, the Mozart opera was well done indeed. It was sung in English, omitting the need for subtitles. Costumes and orchestra were good, too; except I felt that the props were not particularly extravagant. Still, they served the purpose.

It was a good evening and I arrived home at about 10.20pm.

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