I attended a performance of Bizet's Carmen in Pontevedra last night. And a very pleasant evening it was - starting at 8.45 (15 minutes late) and finishing at midnight (40 minutes late). God knows what time the Vigo school kids who appeared in one act got home. And how much sleep they got before school today. Incidentally, they received more applause than almost anyone else and were the only performers mentioned in a brief article on the opera in today's Diario de Pontevedra. As well as being featured in an accompanying foto. So what's that all about? And will we have a proper review in tomorrow's paper? One that might actually help NovaGalicia bank sell seats for Verdi's Nabucco in January. I'm betting not.
Given that the opera is set in Sevilla and features quite a lot of dancing, I was a tad concerned the largely East European cast would expose themselves to ridicule in front of a Spanish audience. Fortunately, though, there were four elegant and svelte ballerinas from a Spanish school and the pretty woman in the Carmen role was adequate in this department.
As ever, I was armed with my small (bird-watching) binoculars. I don't actually go watching – so am not a 'twitcher' – but I do use these bins on the birds in my garden. Anyway, it was good to be able to see the performers close up. Against that, it wasn't so welcome seeing just how poor were the long, black wigs worn by many of the female performers.
Last comment on last night – There was, of course, a request at the start that phones be switched of and that people refrain from filming the performance. Most of us managed to do the latter – especially those of us with dumb-phones – but several inconsiderate bastards didn't, creating a distraction to the rest of us. But I suppose this happens elsewhere too.
I advised my friends on Facebook that I planned to do another camino to Santiago next spring and sought indications of prima facie interest. It would be wrong to say the response was overwhelming but I wasn't expecting just a single response. So, as a glutton for punishment, I'm now throwing this open to the readership of this blog. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org should any of you be interested in going on the circulation list.
I'm always compiling lists of one sort or another and I'm capable of turning these into a matrix in the wink of an eye. Which is why my daughters call me Matrix Man. Inter alia. Anyway, my latest list – which will be a work in progress – is entitled The Golden Rules to Living in Spain. And here's the few I jotted down today, in no particular order or importance:-
- Never believe any signal made by any other driver. It can only lead to tears.
- If you don't like any particular aspect of Spanish life, don't rail against it and don't try to change it: simply manage (i. e. reduce) your expectations.
- When dealing with the bureaucracy, take at least three copies of every document they've asked for. Plus three of every other remotely relevant document you've got. The bureaucrats are trained to send you home for a document which they've not yet mentioned.
- If a Spanish woman touches you on the arm or even the thigh as she's talking to you, don't read this in Anglo terms: It usually means nothing at all and it's a good idea to take this on board and so cool yourself down.
- If you want to get anything done with someone Spanish, create a 'personal connection' in whatever way you can and try to progress things face to face.
- Accept that there's a different concept of time here. Put some effort into finding out what it is. And live with it.
- Carry reading matter everywhere you go. And/or music, if you prefer. You are surely going to need it/them.
Finally . . . Yesterday's question: Mussels a la marinera – This means 'Mussels in a seafood sauce.' But, if you don't speak English and look up marinera in the dictionary, one of the answers will be 'A sort of blouse worn by seamen in Brittany.' From this it's just one small step to 'Mussels to the seaman's blouse'. Sorry to those who already knew this.