Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Self Control

Jotted down a quick list to day of a number of CDs I just have to buy from those good people at Included a couple of books in there as well. And then decided I wouldn't do anything about the list until at least mid-November. Impressive, eh?

(It's just occurred to me that the owners of the impressive organisation name-checked above might consider me a worthy recipient for some reward for such subtle product-placement. Not likely to happen, I know, but let me make it quite clear that I'm not the sort of person to cling to those anti-Capitalist principles I have been known to espouse once the green stuff has been waved in front of me. Just saying.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Back In Harness

Went to the gym earlier this evening for the first time since I had the problem with my back when we were in KL. I could have got back to serious exercise last week, actually, because the problem had pretty much cleared by last Tuesday. That's why I could go to the mosque on Thursday for prayers for Haji, something I didn't think likely to be the case the Thursday before that when nothing seemed to be healing. However, the Missus was adamant that I needed to wait longer before subjecting my leg muscles to a work-out and that seemed sensible to me.

I took it reasonably easy just now, limiting myself to thirty minutes on the elliptical trainer and deliberately under-doing it. In fact I was pleased at being able to keep myself in check in a reasonably disciplined way and not get carried away - though the fact I was thoroughly knackered after twenty minutes contributed to my atypical good sense.

It's a relief that I feel okay now, giving a degree of confirmation that I haven't done myself any damage, but I'll only really know when I get up tomorrow. Part of the pleasure of aging is living on the edge like this - never quite knowing if tomorrow is the day you'll find yourself unable to walk.

Monday, September 28, 2015

After Such Knowledge...

Chanced today upon a long and detailed review from the online London Review of Books of the recently published KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps by Nikolaus Wachsmann. It's obviously a brilliant and necessary work, and one the world must be thankful for, but I'm not sure I could bring myself to read it. Getting to the end of the review, elegantly written as it is, was difficult given the level of depression the content engendered. It felt so strange to complete the final paragraph and get to the magazine's usual line: We hope you have enjoyed reading this free book review...

No I didn't. Nobody could.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Taste Of Paradise

The only complaint I can think of regarding Ursula Vaughan Williams's eminently readable biography of her husband is that just the mentions of the great pieces of music for which RVW was responsible make me urgently desire to listen again to the pieces in question and I haven't got time to do so. Can't blame her for that, though.

Tried to deal with the problem today by bunging on Sancta Civitas and donning the ear-phones to get as up-close and personal as possible. Chose this since I've been haunted by it ever since first getting acquainted in the 1980s, yet for some reason I've not played it as often as the symphonies and Job and the other obvious stuff.

Gentle Reader, it blew my mind. When the solo violin kicked in at about the mid-way mark with the pentatonic-Lark Ascending-sort-of-phrasing I felt as close to heaven as I'm likely to get in this life (and maybe in any other.) I know the old chap purported to be an Agnostic but it's a very peculiar kind of unbelief that can cut right through to the heart of things, if you ask me. This man had seen the Holy City.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Worth Celebrating

Noi completed a full read-through-recitation of The Holy Qur'an today, with her Qur'an reading group, and now has the certificate to prove it. In honour of the occasion she cooked up a storm and a very, very jolly time was had by all. Evidence above.

Addendum: And whilst we're on the subject of celebrations, just thought I'd mention the Mighty Reds sitting pretty at the top of the league. Now I know you're going to say It's early days, and you're right. That's why I thought I'd get a minor bit of celebrating in just now, while it lasts.

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Good Story

Since I didn't have a novel to hand after completing A Man of Parts I opted to read Ursula Vaughan Williams's biography of her husband as my on-going good story, and I'm very glad I did. (I think I was influenced by a sudden moment of recall that RVW had Wells's Tono-Bungay in mind at the end of the London Symphony which somehow made it feel natural to move on from reading about the novelist to doing similar with regard to the composer.) It's not at all an academic biog, being more in the way of an anecdotally gossipy sort of memoir. The musical life of RVW is firmly at its centre but in a very practical, grounded day-by-day manner: his work as a teacher, the on-going involvement in all sorts of festivals, the correspondence from friendships with other composers: that sort of thing.

The funny thing is that, as well as enjoying the relaxed looseness of it all, I'm finding myself developing a very clear sense of the great man. And I really mean 'great'. The relentless artistic development which sort of starts late and slowly and then just keeps going and going is almost without parallel and surely a model for us to not go gently into that good night. I've just reached the point at which he's composed the 4th Symphony and taken everyone by surprise with its glorious discords. He's clearly regarded as a senior in his field making grand final statements and no one knows he's not yet half way through the symphonies (nor through his wives, not having met his biographer-to-be yet.)

What a guy!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

An Element Of Risk

Eid al Adha 1436

The grim news out of Makkah - they're now talking about over four hundred pilgrims dying in the stampede at Minah - puts our decision to put off our attempt to get visas for the Hajj to next year in a very different light. Combine this with the tragedy of the crane toppling over in the storm a week or so ago and I'd have to say I'm relieved we didn't try and go, though perhaps if we were there we'd see it differently. Of course we're wondering about the safety of those who did go, especially Ustad Haroun and party, but the reports don't seem to suggest that pilgrims from this part of the world were involved. Not that that makes much difference given the appalling loss of life. Selfishly I'm hoping this will mean even more safety measures being put in place for next year, where we are very likely to be there, insya'allah. But given the very real efforts by the Saudis to ensure crowd safety I'm puzzled by what could have happened. No doubt more will emerge.

Meantime it's not exactly safe back in this Far Place, I'm afraid, especially for those with respiratory problems. The haze is back with a vengeance, as bad as I can remember it, and the air is officially in the unhealthy range. So even breathing's risky these days.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Not Entirely Restrained

We decided to fast today, ahead of Hari Raya Haji tomorrow, this being a time when voluntary fasting in Islam is common. We then broke the fast over at Fahmi's where we went for prayers and food. The food was excellent and plentiful. So I suspect we'll remember today for its excess as much as its restraint, though we've experienced a fair amount of both.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


I'm so used to reading stuff afresh that I first read as a teenager and responding in a completely different manner this time round that I've come to expect and enjoy the experience. My ability to almost completely forget a good deal of the original reading experience plays a significant role in the process. I seem to be particularly good at forgetting how novels end.

But this doesn't usually apply in the same way to music, except insofar as some albums have lost their original magic for me. I notice the clich├ęs now. However, one magical exception for me over recent weeks has been my sort of rediscovery of Van der Graaf Generator. My purchase of a number of their albums, both recent and of the seventies, both live and in the studio, has alerted my ears to things they somehow missed first time round. This applies to the whole band, but especially the drumming of Guy Evans. If you'd have asked me a couple of years ago what I thought of him I'd have said that he overplays and is a bit too busy for my liking. I certainly would not have thought of him alongside the mighty Bill Bruford or even Phil Collins (with whom I saw him share a stage many moons ago, when all three of us had a lot more hair.)

What was I thinking? Now I put him right there at the very top. Astonishing playing on everything I've been listening to lately. There are some Peel sessions he plays on around 1977 featuring on the live from the BBC double CD set, with the five piece, violin-based version of the band, on which I just can't listen to anybody else because he's so darned perfect just playing in a straight-ahead, four square, almost punk manner.

I just listened again to H to He Who Am The Only One, the only VDGG album I actually possessed as a teenager (everything else I borrowed from friends) to check out the drumming since somehow or other it had never stood out for me and I wondered why. What I realised was that I knew almost every drum-beat on the album, but had somehow assumed that this was sort of routine so the playing had become just part of the musical wallpaper for me. (It doesn't help that the production kind of blends everything together into a bit of a mush.) Listening to it now I heard the drums as they would have really sounded on stage and, believe me, it was quite something.

As usual, it's a fine thing to find out how wrong-headed I've been. And now back to side 2 of the album I thought I knew inside out and back to front. Yowza!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Still Mending

Enjoyed the minor miracle today of actually feeling better: a distinct improvement in my lower back and environs which became apparent around 9.00 am, once I'd ironed out the crinkles attendant upon getting out of bed and really started moving around, led to a very cheerful day. Once you've reached my age you realize you can't take these things for granted, which makes them all the more marvelous when they take place. The human body is a wonderful thing, isn't it? - even a decrepit one like the one I'm lucky enough to get to manage.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

One Or The Other

Was on the receiving end of a very heavy duty massage this evening, courtesy of Noi's famous massage lady, Kak Sabariah. Had the distinct impression it was either going to mend or mar me. Still not quite sure which two hours later, but hoping for the best.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

On The Mend

We visited Abang Mat this afternoon, at his home where he's recuperating from a heart attack he suffered a couple of weeks back. We were intending to visit him whilst he was still in hospital but could only make the time to do so on Friday, the day he was discharged. He's had a pacemaker put in, much to his chagrin. At the moment he looks worn down, not surprisingly, but he was in good spirits this afternoon. It looks like being told he can't smoke any more is his greatest bugbear.

Fortunately there have been distinct signs of healing in my bad back. That meant I was able to sit on the low sofa in Abang Mat's place for an hour without undue discomfort, something that would have been impossible only yesterday. I'm hoping the problem goes away completely so I can back to some serious exercise again, but compared to the difficulties faced by others my condition is hardly worth complaining about.

Mind you, marking's going to be difficult if I have a relapse and I've got plenty of that to do, so if things take a turn for the worse I'll be complaining like crazy. So here's hoping for better days.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Other People's Lives

Finished A Man of Parts this evening realising that my claim from yesterday to have read half Wells's novels was incorrect. It seems he wrote quite a number of not very good ones in his last twenty-five years or so, a detail that adds considerably to the sense of melancholy induced by the final sections of Lodge's novel. I reckon I've probably read only a quarter of his fictions, and I don't intend to increase that fraction any time soon.
Having said that I suddenly recalled last night that in reading some of his work, some years back, specifically Kipps, I think, and definitely The New Machiavelli, I was somewhat excited to find parallels to Jung's idea of the two kinds of self as outlined in his autobiography. At the time I assumed this was just a coincidence, for some reason thinking that Wells would not have been cognisant of the work of the great psychoanalyst, but now I wonder. There's a fleeting reference to Jung in Lodge's novel that suggests Wells knew of his work and ideas, particularly the idea of the Shadow, but no more than that, unfortunately. I wonder how far Wells was consciously following a Jungian conception of personality when writing those novels.

But it's enough of H.G. for now, and possibly for always. The thing is, though, that whilst I've got a pile of recently acquired books that I've got to read there isn't a novel amongst them. So I'm now trying to make up my mind as to whether I should go with a biography of Ralph Vaughan Williams (the one by his missus) or a biography of Bob Dylan to fulfil my need for story. (I've still got a long way to go in Pinker's The Better Angels of our Nature, so that's my non-fictional supplement for the moment.)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Weak Connection

Now coming to the end of David Lodge's recent novel about H.G. Wells, A Man of Parts. Interesting and entertaining, but not in the same league as his earlier Henry James novel Author, Author. Not for this reader, anyway. The Wells book seems clumsier, somehow; much closer at times to a straightforward biography.

It could also be the case that I find myself very distant from Wells in any number of ways and, thus, can't really surrender to the narrative. Lodge is wonderfully non-judgmental regarding H.G.'s sexual life (strenuous and wide-ranging) but I find it difficult to hold back from imagining the extent of the damage he probably did to others. A sign of just how puritanical I've become in old age, I suppose.

I read quite a bit of Wells in the late 90's at the time I was teaching The History of Mr Polly for 'O' level, and it's been useful to be reminded of the range of his fiction. I loved Mr Polly - the one novel in which it all came together in a perfect manner - and the early scientific romances, with The Island of Doctor Moreau ranking as one of the most genuinely disturbing novels I've ever read. But I can't say that Lodge's book has inspired me with any great enthusiasm to read that half of the work I've never looked at, so on that simple level it's not really worked for me.

But it's been an easy, indeed effortless read - something that Lodge always provides.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Early Days

Spent a fair few minutes over the last few days thinking about drama projects for next year. In some ways this is the most exciting time of all when a show is tentatively on its way because all options are so open and you don't have to face the intimidating need to actually get something done by the end of the week. Yet, curiously, there is an attendant sense of impatience, of wanting to get to the point of seeing something, even in its roughest shape, manifest itself, of wanting to give airy nothing a local habitation and a name. Once you can do that the swirl of ideas calms itself, which is in some ways disappointing, but in other ways a relief. It isn't wise to surrender to obsessions too eagerly.

Mind you, it's always useful to be obsessed about something worth obsessing over and I'm particularly happy to find myself unable to stop thinking about A Midsummer Night's Dream (as cunning readers may have surmised from the previous paragraph) which we've confirmed as our big show for next July. I'm particularly fixated at present on the notion of Dionysian anarchy, a dangerous place to be.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Getting Better

I've been taking my reading of Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature at quite a slow pace despite its readability. It's much less technical than his work on language and the mind and it would be easy to storm through it without sufficiently engaging with the ideas on offer. But each example he gives to backup his thesis is in itself worth pondering. The interest lies in the details.
Judging from Pinker's characterisation of just how radically unacceptable his thesis is for many readers I seem to be in a small minority in thinking that it's obvious that the violence of which mankind is capable has fairly steadily declined over the centuries. Yet it seems to me that anyone with a feel for history who's reasonably widely read would know this. I seem to remember Stephen King making the same point in a somewhat looser manner in one of his reflections on his own writing in the horror genre. (I think it might be in Danse Macabre somewhere.) King's idea was that in writing about violence he was reminding readers who rarely if ever experienced it what it felt like and how central to human nature our aggression is, even though we are capable of keeping it under control.

I suppose the fundamentally optimistic notion that we can exert a remarkable degree of control over our baser instincts goes against the fundamental easy pessimism of our age. It's a bit sad, isn't it, that it's so difficult for us to recognise when we get something right.

Monday, September 14, 2015

With Friends Like These...

Talked to two Liverpool supporters today who told me they didn't mind the defeat at Old Trafford on Saturday as it was likely to lead to Brendan Rodgers getting the sack. Almost felt sorry for him. Almost.

Actually did genuinely feel sorry for Signor Pellegrini earlier this year after the amazing calls for his sacking and am almost happy to see City doing so well (almost) and shutting the idiots up. He strikes me as being a decent sort of bloke, which can't be an easy thing to be in his world.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Here, Again

Arrivals are great opportunities to check how much of yourself you've left behind. Now back in the hall and bracing myself for the week ahead after an utterly relaxing Saturday night and Sunday morning spent in Melaka - on the floor for much of the time. Rested and refreshed, but still with an aching back.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Out For The Count

I'm not exactly surprised at the results of two elections held over the last two days. I suspected the ruling party were likely to poll higher than they managed in 2011 in Singapore's General Election, and that proved to be the case. My guess is that more was involved there than simply a reaction to SG 50 and the death of Lee Kuan Yew, though that's where lazy commentators are likely to go in their analyses. I reckon that the development of a relatively liberal climate in the nation and the sense that the ruling party was genuinely trying to listen to its citizens went a long way in securing this landslide. I read one or two commentaries mentioning the authoritarianism of the state and the lack of free speech, but it doesn't feel that way to me, and I'm guessing the same is true for a lot of other folk on the island.

Mind you, I've been treated to some highly intelligent analyses of the politics of the city state in the last few weeks of which quite a few were bitingly critical of the government, and I'm sure the place isn't going to stand still in terms of its political growth in the next decade or so. I reckon the political scene is going to get a lot more interesting than it might appear at present.

The result of the other election, for the Labour Party leadership back in the UK, looks a lot less rational than developments in this Far Place. It's useful to try and ensure your party is electable if you're interested in real political action, a lesson Old Labour found difficult to understand, and which their heirs appear to be struggling with.

Friday, September 11, 2015

A Day Of Rest

I'm pretty good at being lazy but I've surpassed myself today. Whatever the doc gave me yesterday for my back didn't work particularly well so the only place I've been able to get any relief from pain is on the floor. Therefore I've spent a good part of the day there. Normally I'd have a book in hand down there, but because of the problems with my left arm (don't ask!) whilst a book has been available I've generally given it up after a few minutes and aimlessly dozed. This was quite enjoyable the first couple of times but it's possible to have too much sleep and that's what I've had today. (Difficult to believe I'm expressing such a sentiment, but there you are, eh?)

Now feeling extremely restless even though the pain is still fairly raw - but subsiding somewhat, I think. I wasn't too reluctant to get myself to the table to write this, which is a good sign. We were supposed to be moving on to Melaka today, but the journey's been shelved until the morrow, so I can't direct my energies in that direction.

Vaguely wondering about the results of today's General Election in Singapore. Might try and see what's happening later, unless I decide I'm too tired, which isn't likely.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Not So Patient

Feeling very sorry for myself after my back went into spasm in the early afternoon. The warning signs were there last night. I was a bit uncomfortable during dinner and struggled during prayers. But I suppose I was hoping for the best. However, the best was most definitely not to be.

I managed to get to the doctor's and I've had a jab of what I presume is muscle relaxant, but nothing feels particularly relaxed at this point in time, especially in the area around my left hip. Fortunately all the checks for a slipped disk proved welcomely negatively, so there is an upside to all this. However, the downside is that as I've had occasion to point out here before, I'm not terribly good at being ill so it's really in everyone's best interest (everyone being basically the Missus at this juncture) that things start to improve soon.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Getting It Wrong

I wonder just for how long you can stretch out listening to an opera and still qualify as having listened to it as a single piece. I started on Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio last week but only played the second CD of the 2 CD set from my box of the seven major operas under the baton of John Eliot Gardiner this afternoon. Thoroughly enjoyed the opera as a whole despite having to read the English translation of all the spoken dialogue at high speed between arias to get the flow of the story. (The Gardiner version features a smattering of the dialogue to give a taste of the scenes but cut most of it.)

Found myself fascinated by the treatment of Muslim culture in the opera. The stereotyping is understandably heavy-handed - I was going to type and of its time, but then realized that much of it sounds contemporary. But what came as a surprise was the treatment of Pasha Selim as an enlightened ruler. I suppose this came about simply to provide the necessary happy ending, but there are moments in the final dialogue when the suggestions that he represents a wisdom far deeper than any of the 'western' characters appear explicit and have a curious power - as if hinting that there's the possibility of viewing the action from a different perspective entirely and that Constanze, our heroine, may be making the wrong, blinkered choice in rejecting the monarch. 

I seem to remember that in the movie Amadeus the Abduction gets a patronizing nod as a tuneful bit of entertaining froth, but it struck me as a lot more interesting than that. But tuneful certainly. Boy, is this stuff easy on the ear!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Unexpected

I can't think of any other major novel I've read that's as entirely unpredictable as The Idiot. I couldn't shake off the feeling as I read that Dostoevsky had very little idea where his story was going and just kept improvising one great sequence after another with a freshness stemming from the lack of any real direction. He creates characters that not only behave unpredictably, despite their being representative of certain 'types', but actually seem to be discovering the reasons for their choices even as they are making them - and this is true even of his obsessive types, of which, of course, there are more than a few.

Finishing the novel today I really have little sense of what it's 'about' as a coherent whole. Rather I remember the brilliant moments, invariably painful, that all seem to fit in somewhere. Just to give one example: General Ivolgin's stealing of Lebedev's money, followed by his lying account of his involvement with the Emperor Napoleon in 1812, is both excruciatingly embarrassing yet impossible to set aside. Did FD have War and Peace in mind as he wrote it? And was he smiling?

I doubt the smiling somehow. There are many references to smiles and laughter in The Idiot (just about as many as there are to tears) ,and at times it's an extraordinarily funny book, but in the end it furrows the brow and shines too dark a light to allow cheerfulness to break through. I find myself keen to reread the other classics (and Notes From the Underground which for some reason I can't fathom I've never got round to) but maybe not this year.

Monday, September 7, 2015


Journeyed up to our house in the Malaysian capital yesterday. Enjoyed a fairly routine arrival, finding the place in good order, which the Missus turned into excellent order in little to no time, wielding a trusty mop to do so. (I joined in to do my bit, by the way, so no finger-pointing on the sexism front, please.) The minor fly in the proverbial ointment was a lack of access to the Internet since our service provider decided not to provide service. It seems a payment we made in late June to them somehow escaped their notice and since we didn't keep a receipt we are deemed at fault, even though I reckon we're not, according to the laws of natural justice. There's a lesson in all this somewhere, and I suspect we'll have to learn it, rather than our clueless service provider.

Mind you, the ease with which we managed to pay an electricity bill today to Tanaga Nasional has sort of restored my faith in human nature, in this case the human nature possessed of a nondescript security guard at their branch at Taman Melawati who guided us through the whole procedure of paying through an intimidating ATM-like kiosk which we'd never have attempted but for him. That saved us a further visit to the Post Office in order to hand over the shekels, enabling us to drive back to the hill for a welcome cup of tea and two surpassingly excellent curry puffs, a much more rewarding way of passing the time.

I'm about to play yet another Emmylou Harris album to soothe the furrowed brow, having fruitfully un-furrowed said brow with four others this morning. Yes, the holiday has officially begun.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

In Conversation

An excellent day for conversations, including one about the forthcoming election in this Far Place that I found extremely informative. There's something about being an disinterested-interested on-looker that feels strangely privileged, and I seem to occupy that position in almost every aspect of my life.

Friday, September 4, 2015

At The Moment

Reading Dostoevsky's The Idiot (just starting Part 3) and Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature.

Listening to Mozart's Die Entuhrung aus dem Serail - The Abduction from the Seraglio for those, like me, with no German (about halfway - 1 CD from the 2 CD set.)

Eating homemade cheesecake (from the Missus, covered in bits of fruit) and goring pisang (ditto, but not the fruit).

Praying Maghrib, as soon as I finish this - the azan just sounded.

Thinking Life Is Good, in this little corner of the universe at least.

Watching, for clues.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Sense Of Despair

Looking at the images related to the migrant crisis in and around Europe is more than uncomfortable. I'm reminded that I'm a bit of a migrant myself. A lucky one, with a happy story to tell. For some the story has ended almost as soon as it had begun.

It's difficult to see any good coming out of this. But that doesn't mean it can't.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A Sense Of Admiration

Was thinking about having a bit of a moan in a post about how difficult it was to get out of bed this morning and go to work following yesterday's unexpected holiday. Changed my mind after catching a little item on BBC World in the early evening about foreign workers here in Singapore - those from the Indian sub-continent for the most part - forming cricket teams and playing games on Sundays, the day off for most construction workers here, I'm guessing, in their own little league.

There were interviews with guys working 14 or 16 hour days (and I mean working), getting paid less than 1000 SGD a month, and sending most of that back to their families back home. None of them complained about low pay. In fact, they were more than happy, grateful indeed, to be able to earn what they did and work as hard as they were doing on a regular basis. The cricket was their way of escaping for a short while into what they really wanted to do, a way of feeling alive again.

I've never quite been able to figure out the modern cult of admiration for various worthies from the business world and the like - the sort of Donald Trump figures whom the self-help books seem to assume we all wish to be. I think there's a lot, lot more we could usefully learn from those we sometimes see as somehow beneath us. Listening to today's cricketers speak I felt small, I can tell you, but I also saw the possibility of becoming someone bigger.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Liberal Education

Spent a fair amount of time today listening to Mozart's Idomeneo. Listening to the whole thing requires a few spare hours and, since I had them, I fruitfully used them for that purpose. The version was that conducted by John Eliot Gardiner with the English Baroque Soloists and I can't imagine hearing a better orchestra doing this stuff. They deliver total clarity and unbounded energy. The sound is fabulous.

I got hold of the cheapo cheapo box set of Gardiner doing the seven big Mozart operas a few months back and have played bits and pieces here and there. But unfortunately, though understandably, this bargain edition doesn't come with any of the librettos, though the pithy notes on each opera in the accompanying booklet are pretty informative. As a result I've not really settled to full length play-throughs of the full operas until now, having just acquired the seriously handsome tome: Seven Mozart Librettos - A Verse Translation by J.D. McClatchy. This means that my education in Mozartian opera is now officially underway.

I'm intending to listen to another three operas, in the order of composition, over the next two weeks and to say I'm looking forward to the experience would be an under-statement. In truth, I was a bit wary of Idomeneo being aware that as an opera seria this work represented a genre likely to prove difficult to access for my modern, under-educated musical sensibilities. I couldn't have been more wrong.