Another hectic day but it was extraordinary. I had breakfast this morning at the dormitory. It was quite good. Very filling and prepared me for a lot of fast walking. Today I was to meet up with a former student from UK who happens to be from the UK. She currently is working in opera and film. She told me she moved back into the theatre world by working on the film Maleficent . She has most recently been touring Great Britain with an opera company and making costumes for that company as well. Very pleased to see her today.
We met up at the Green Park tube station near St. James Park. While I was waiting in this relatively small enclosure with a fountain a couple of policewomen on horseback brought their mounts into the area to, drink from the fountain. Couldn’t resist that photo op. (See below.) Vikki finally arrived and after a wonderful reunion, we headed off to something I didn’t expect. She was originally taking me to a choral concert but, that fell through so we attended morning service at the Queen’s Chapel at St. James Palace. This was an extraordinary experience. When it concluded she apologized for how long it had been (1 1/2 hrs). To me it seemed very short. It was very beautiful in this intimate chapel designed by Inigo Jones, who in addition to being an architect, was known for his innovations in theatre structure design.
Leaving the service the vicar (I assume) asked me where I was from. I do not think he was prepared for my answer but, he was glad I came. So was I.
With that Vikki was off and me following as best I could. We worked our way around Buckingham Palace and headed for the tube to go to lunch. I sort of gave up trying to take pictures as she was moving like a tornado through the crowds of people. We got on the tube and headed down to Brixton, an old stomping ground of hers for lunch. Somewhere in there she took me through a street where men’s accessories are sold and made, not Saville Row but, its neighbor.
Brixton was an incredible mix of people and cultures. She told me it was coming back and it had been dangerous at some point in the past. The area where we had lunch was in an old structure where the rents had been lowered considerably in order to promote business. What has sprung up is a variety of restaurants, tiny little affairs actually. We stopped for pizza and a pint and she was right it was very inexpensive but very good food.
After eating it was time to head to the theatre. She treated me to the final performance of the English National Opera season – Cosi Fan Tutte. It was a stunning production both visually as well as the performances by the singers. This really reminded me what a journey a great opera production can provide. The theatre was quite wonderful as well. The production ironically was set in America in what seemed to be Coney Island or some similar location. The director peopled the production with a group of side show people (Siamese twins, sword swallower, fire-eater, bearded lady, etc) who acted as something of a Greek chorus to observe but never comment. Tourist types and other carnival people acted as the chorus. Other productions of this opera I seen always seemed a little chaste. This production brought some of the edge and a strong sense of sexuality to the performance which seems appropriate for an 18th century opera by Mozart.
The performance concluded by 6 and we were off and running again through Piccadilly Circus, Soho, Oxford Street (lots of shopping), and Carnaby Street before getting on the tube to head home.
We parted at the first stop and I made my way home. I was hungry so Christina agreed to come out for a break (even she had already had dinner) and I found a great little pub around the corner and had my first visit to a pub. I’m pooped but energized and need to wind down so, I will leave it at that. Good night.