Lately

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After Carmelites, Tosca. I have never seen Tosca live, and for some reason it’s a work I have never been in love with, even though it was the one that really started my love for opera. The music is fantastic, but somehow I don’t ever end up moved by it the same way I’m moved by Traviata or Billy Budd. The present ROH production – and my Saturday night visit – is as close to the old school, golden age as is possible, all period sets and grease paint. It doesn’t quite take flight, but Sondra Radvanovsky was fantastic, and I finally got to meet the man in the first picture. That has to count for something.

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And after Tosca, the arts festival. Much happened, and not all of it happy or uncomplicated. But in the end, we were successful, all the work paid off, and plans for next year are going ahead.

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Last nights of Oxford magic.

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I arrived in Finland yesterday, my first early July visit in years. The nights are still white, and I don’t quite know what to make of them anymore. Sleep, at 11.30pm, when the sky is still blue and the sun not quite set yet? Oh dear. The weather could not be better, which is such a relief after the dark, disastrous winter visit. This is Finnish summer as I remember it – warm and dry, silent, the colours like in a 1970s photograph. There’s no drama, no extreme, just friendly, gentle calmness.

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