Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Elsa's Dream Experiment

 To embed or not to embed that is the problem. Will it or won't it?

 I have been trying to embed a Quicktime player so I can upload some of my recordings but as you can see I have had little success.

I have been so involved with Motion and Final Cut that I have almost forgotten how to work Dreamweaver. I know I used to be able to upload an MP3 but I have forgotten so I have had to relearn.

Lynda.com was busy. It has annoyingly revamped its home page as it had too may courses and of course I could not find anything and then the internet got busy.

Well eventually I got this far. I can link my MP3 to my web sight rather like a BBC Podcast only it isn't.

You have to click on the Lohengrin. It isn't that obvious. Much easier with the player!


But I have yet to manage an embed on this page. It is there! That tiny blue thing but it does not work!

Oh I love the web! Hours of frustration and naturally it will be easy when I find out.

And so to bed! I'll worry about the next bit tomorrow!

Embedding is so easy! Voila!

The Daffodils or 'How to get Soaked in the Cause of Art'

I feel a poem coming on. The Daffodils by Wordsworth to be precise.

A YouTube Internet acquaintance, Julian Hellaby concert pianist, university lecturer and opera lover  who runs a Channel  paulprocopolis where he uploads lost recordings of past masters as well as his own had posted his own recording of a Chopin Waltz, the one in C# minor or for ballet lovers, the pas de deux from Les Sylphides.

I asked Julian Hellaby for permission as a 'host of golden daffodils' seemed to go beautifully with the sparkling  Chopin waltz and he agreed.

Images are hard to get these days even for a project like this which is not commercial, will be seen at most by 100 people if I am lucky but the days of just ripping off an image from Google are gone. Fortunately for me Chopin and Wordsworth are in the Public Domain.

I get annoyed when my own work is used without permission as I feel artists, including me should be included in the pay roll or credits. When I ran my small opera/ballet company in Auckland in 1980 I always negotiated the 'rights' even though I am sure no one would ever have found out so I am not about to start now. The penalty can be having your channel taken down or worse still adverts for Google all over it.

So I have to go out and film my own.

It is fortunately August in New Zealand and the daffodils are out. Not in my area as it is too warm for them but a few kilometers south the Auckland Botanic Gardens has a massed display that lasts about a fortnight.  I had tried my friends who have a few in pots that would do for close ups but I need 'ten thousand at a glance'!

So this Sunday I had  my opportunity. The traffic South of Auckland is horrendous on week days as everything that had gone by rail is now on the road so I avoid the motorway south.

The weather was a bit 'ho hum' but looked OK. It was not going to be brilliant sunlight but I can upgrade the weather in color correction. I arrived and started my hike to the daffodils which were about half a mile from the main entrance, carting all my gear, tripod, cameras, driving license.

No sooner had I got the first shot in the gloom of a duck disappearing from the few daffs on display than it started to drizzle. When I got to the main display and there were 'ten thousand at a glance it started to spit'. I knew I had to be quick and did a couple of shaky pans, I am not the greatest camera operator and that was it.

The heavens opened and down came the rain, the heavy wetting sort that is like a cold shower full on. NZ tropical rain usually last four minutes and stops. A convenient shelter under a tree is usually all one needs. Not today. Not one in sight. I was caught in the open half a mile from shelter, no friendly bus shelter and completely alone and it belted down for ten minutes.

This was bad enough. I had to keep the camera dry, I had a parka fortunately so my head and torso were kept dry but my trousers were soaked almost immediately. The rain did not stop, I and twenty tuis (NZ native birds) were huddled under a rata tree soaked to the skin and when I started home in a shot it happened.

It hailed! For the first time in my life I was caught out in a hail storm with no shelter.
It was quite an experience. It hurt and it hailed for about six minutes! I  left the daffodils being flattened by the little white stones. What had been a 'sprightly mass' a few moments ago was now a flattened mass like a trampled crop circle. No hope of coming back when it had stopped!

It was still raining heavily when I got to the car. How anyone has sex in a car I shall never know as I struggled to get out of  my wet  trousers socks and shoes on the driver's seat. I had a dry pair of waterproof pants in the boot. It took a good ten minutes. Changing outside the car was impossible as it was still belting down inside was a steaming sauna.

I beat a retreat home. I out-ran the rain and hail as I approached Auckland but just as I arrived it caught up. One hot shower later and a nice cup of char and I perused my footage. Well I got about four minutes of shaky footage and no close ups as I did not have time but as Mercutio said 'twill do!'

A day spent putting it all into slow motion, color correction and inspiration should do it. No hope of a re run until next year! I only hope it is not too vulgar! We'll see.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Cuba Home of Organic Gardening for all

Organic Farming: How Cuba Fought its Oil Addiction 
Starved of cheap oil after the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuba’s fossil fuel dependent agriculture faced ruin. Farmers responded by going back to traditional methods and going green.
I love gardens and gardening. I love growing flowers like my grandfather Thorpe and to my delight my daughter enjoys growing vegetables like her great grandfather Miller. She does so in an incredibly small garden which is hardly larger than a pocket handkerchief yet she manages to grow carrots, tomatoes and leaks in abundance. It is very impressive.

So it was with some delight and surprise  that I was introduced to the Organic Gardens of Cuba.  As you can see from the above quote Cuba has had to make its own arrangements as to feeding its population and the way things are going Cuba is going to be one country that will possibly survive climate change and lack of oil.

Everywhere in the city are small gardens full of vegetables. Everything is organic. To help kiosks are set up all over the city to give help and information to potential gardeners. The whole set up is very enouraging.

I already grow herbs within my flower boarders and lettuce in pots.There is only one of me so I only need a few leaves a day. I get no frost at all as I live by the sea and 'no frost' is not good for root vegitable like potaoes and carrots but I have quince tree, ouch, very, very bitter raw and my own  oranges and lemons.

I have very little lawn. Mowed lawns are like green deserts. Unproductive and expensive to maintain.

So bravo Cuba for showing us in the so called advanced countries how to do it! Not only organic gardens but a magnificent ballet company to boot.  Would love to visit. Never thought I should  ever say this.

Here's my quince tree!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pope Benedict - Ordain Women Now! Bus Campaign

Pope Benedict will be confronted by posters on London's famous red buses during his trip to the British capital next month which will call for the ordination of women priests.
Protests are planned throughout his four-day trip to England and Scotland, the first papal visit since John Paul II's pastoral visit in 1982 and the first-ever official papal visit to Britain.
The Independent 26 August 2010
Normally in life I have learned never to discuss religion or politics. I lose too many friends that way and we all need friends. When I grew up in UK in the 1950's all children I knew received a religious education including me. It was what we did.

I was very good a Religious Education. I came first at my convent school. I got 98% for my catchisim exam. I know my Adam & Eve! I really do! Consequently all my fiends are religious!

Although no longer a believer I feel sorry for the Bus Campaign Ladies. Their £15,000 will not induce this Pope or any Pope to ordain women now or in the future. It cannot happen.

Why? I hear you ask aghast! Surely all the Pope has to do is change his mind? Well no he can't. The Pope is stuck in 1870 and the introduction of Papal Infallibility. This is little understood by anyone outside the Vatican but I have always been interested in this subject which is brushed under the carpet by the Vatican and the reason is so incredible you can see why.

Pope Pius IX lived for 90 years. He was superbly confident, so in 1870 Pope Pius IX called a Council Vatican and had all the Scared Scripture set in Stone. That meant the Bible as it stood  plus The Sacred Tradition as The Acts of the Apostles is known, the Holy Tradition which includes the celibacy orders that were enforced earlier mainly to stop priests having enormous families that the church would have to look after were defined as the revealed work of God and stood as is for all time There was also the Magistarium which was the church authorities could suggest new dogma.

Then as the piece de resistance Papal Infallibility was defined which meant any Pope could define new dogma that was not in the sacred texts like The Bodily Assumption of The Blessed Virgin into Heaven  by means of an ex cathedra Statement. Unless a pope spoke under this authority anything else a Pope said was not Kosher and could be open to interpretation. This is so important when dealing with Popes as you never can be sure if it is them or a Pope talking to you. Non Catholics find this confusing.

The important part about this dogma was that once something had been defined as Infallible and that included all of the above, right or wrong it could never be changed! Pope Pius IX was told not to do it but he wouldn't listen. Old age is not the best judge of the future.

It sounds like a fairy story that I have made  up ! I am not so creative. Billions of Catholics believe this.  I know you won't believe me but that is the case.

Pope Pius IX has spoken and Pope Benedict  XVI can do nothing about it. Check the  Vatican's Wiki page on Papal Infallibility. It is an eye opener. Why the Vatican just does not say this is  escapes me but perhaps it is better to pretend that one day the Pope  might allow women priests if women are good. He won't.

So the Bus Ladies have had it!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Roller Coaster Trills - It in the genes

Heard a BBC programme on the thrills of roller coasters. Evidently the thrills are all in our genes. It seems 10% of us are wired to seek out thrills. We need the adrenaline punch of excitement .

Personally I can do without a roller coaster ride although I am a risk taker. Anyone who does operas on televison live has to have a death wish. Proudly I can admit that I have only experienced one roller coaster ride in my life and I was terrified but as my daughter who loves roller coasters was determined to go on this ride and there was nobody else to take her I decided I had to do it. It surely couldn't be that bad so I closed my eyes and lived through it. It was a memorable five minutes.

I got off in one piece and in truth it wasn't that bad and I knew that that was my one and only ride I should ever make. This was it but my motto is try everything once.

This morning I heard on the programme that the very worst type of roller coaster is small and enclosed and in the dark. Not being able to see what is coming makes the whole thing so much more thrilling or terrifying. Even today one of the very worst rides is The Space Mountain ride at Disneyland.

Guess which the one and only roller coaster ride of my life was? Got it in one - Space Mountain. I hope my daughter appreciated me!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bravo to the Bull

Bravo for the Bull!

Last week spectators at the Navarre Bull Ring in Spain had to run for their lives. The video footage was most impressive. Terrified crowds full of children had to scamper out of danger.

I could not but for once be pleased at their discomfort and fortunately nobody was killed except of course the Bull.  After suffering at the hands of the spectators for fifteen minutes the bull was put to death but the bull did manage to injure 40 of them. They shouldn't have been there!

I find Bull Fighting a particularly nasty sport. How anyone can go and see a live creature tortured to death for pleasure is beyond me and take children. The Romans, those bastions of civilization enjoyed it. Good afternoon at the arena with lions, crocs and a few Christians thrown in was their idea of a well spent Saturday

I fail to see how Bull fighting an be allowed to continue today. One area of Spain has been sensible enough to ban it and hopefully the rest will follow. The sooner the better.

Iran still seems to enjoy a good stoning, maybe Iran should try Bull fighting! Only joking. Stoning is no fun for humans and Bull fighting is no fun for bulls.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Today I caught up with Graeme Murphy's Swan Lake for the Australian Ballet on DVD. It was first presented in 2002 and I could not think why I missed it until I realized my husband was dying!  It has been revived and has just visited Paris. It is magnificent. Regretfully though the dress did not behave as above but that is a minor matter.

Graeme Murphy is the third choreographer who has given a fresh reading of this classic. Jonathan Miller explained how true masterpieces are relevant  to any age and can be reinterpreted in the light of the current social climate. This happens in opera and Shakespeare all the time but in 1976 a brave and brilliant choreographer had a 'go ' at 'Swan Lake'.

In' Illusions Like Swan Lake'  John Neumeier of the Hamburg Ballet based his plot on  The Swan King, Ludwig of Bavaria which fitted the original story very well. Ludwig was homosexual, never married and eventually drowned in mysterious circumstances in his lake. This version is my favourtie of all and I have seen Swan Lake for over a forty year period.

The biggest problem with Swan Lake is that Act II is the pinnacle of choreographic art. No one has ever done anything better. It was choreographed by Lev Ivanov who was Maurice Petipa's assistant for forty years. In all those years Petipa never let Ivanov have an opportunity to show what he could do. Ivanov was to remain an nonentity for posterity but fate and the Good Fairy stepped in.

While working on Swan Lake Petipa was taken ill and he was obliged to hand over Act II to his assistant  Ivanov and the rest is history. Ivanov is remembered for posterity  as the greatest classical ballet choreographer ever.  The balletic Mozart. Nothing so far has yet reached the perfection that this simple White Ballet attains. No huge lifts , no virtuosos technique required the very simplicity is its strongest virtue.

The rest of the ballet is a hotch potch of choreographers but Act II by Ivanov stands alone. He will be remembered for this Act and nothing more but he eclipses his master as Mozart eclipsed Salerie. Sort of poetic justice and it so nearly didn't happen.

Neumeier was clever and left  Act  II  to stand alone using Ivanov's original choreography. Another version the all make Act II of Mathew Bourne does the same with a few minor changes but Graeme Murphy with  all the confidence of an Aussie has had a go at re-choreographing the Holy Grail.

Does it work? Not quite! Murphy based the story on Lady Di/Charles/Camilla love triangle. A very good choice and it works well except for Act II. Murphey's choreography is sublime, the technique required is that  of a virtuoso, the originality of the steps is remarkable the cygnets is a delightful array of invention after innovation and Murphy is the master of unique lifts and passionate pas de deux, Murphy comes close to perfection but maybe is a little OTT. Ivanov does not need improving.

So where does Swan Lake go from here. Tchaikovsky the composer would be a suitable candidate. His disastrous marriage to a naive woman is the stuff of legend. Tchaikovsky was homosexual and married for conventional reasons. Needless to say it did not work for either of them. One would have to work at the plot to make it fit but I feel sure someone is up to it. It is the sort of thing I should have relished doing when I was twenty but have no time now.

Someone will, just remember where you heard it first but one thing is certain if it is to be successful, Hands off Act II.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Birgit Nilsson - The Best Liebestod/Isolde Ever!

I never thought I should be writing this but it is true for almost half of my life I have been wrong about this magnificent soprano Birgit Nilsson. Perhaps half wrong!

I was introduced to Nilsson by my husband in about 1966 who had bought the Solti recording of Wagner's 'Tristan & Isolda' on LP. I still have the records. Unfortunately they were not recorded in Nilsson's heyday and she was not at her best. In fact when I listened to them recently they were 'unlistenable to' if you pardon my syntax.

Nilsson was also very heavily built to put it mildly. She looked like the back of a bus and one had to stretch the imagination to see her as a young innocent girl in love for the first time. Nilsson had become a Prima Donna with an over inflated opinion on artistic production. Miles took me to the first night of the infamous 'Tristan' produced and directed by Peter Hall at The Royal Opera House Covent Garden where Hall had mounted a brilliant modern staging which would have been run of the mill for Shakespeare at the National Theatre but threw the conservative opera world into a feeding frenzy of hate.

Ms Nilsson refused to appear after the first night unless changes were made. Either she went or Peter Hall went. Guess who went? It was not Ms Nilsson! We had tickets for subsequent performances as well. My husband was not going to miss a single 'Tristan. Ms Nilsson's dramatic changes including costume and mis en scene ruined what had been a memorable production beside the fact her voice was past it. Now my memory of it is of disappointment and annoyance that she should have been allowed to interfere.

Singers are just that singers not opera/stage directors and should keep out of something they know nothing about. Nilsson should have stuck to singing in tune, her voice had a wobble one could have driven a London bus through at this stage. Nilsson a favourite of Solti's ruined Wagner performance after Wagner performance for me until Solti and she gave up to the relief of all the audience.

So it comes as somewhat of a surprise to find the immaculate performance of the 'Libestod' by a younger, beautiful Birgit Nilsson on YouTube. When you see and hear Nilsson at the peak of her career you can see now why she was so special. Why didn't she stop then? But egos, and Nilsson had one of those, and perhaps money made her struggle on. One only has to read the comments on her later performances on YouTube to realise I was not alone in my opinion. If only I had seen this!

Makes we want to dust off my old copy of Wesendonk Leider! Now where is it!

So here is Birgit Nilsson at her best.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tippie Atkinson My Speedway Auntie

Today I found out on Google that my last true Auntie, Tippie Atkinson, had died in 2007. I lost touch with her  many years ago but I did miss my wonderful Aunt. She was 94!

Auntie Tippie was an amazing woman for her time. She married a Speedway Rider, Arthur Atkinson in the 1930's and went on to promote  manage and run West Ham Speedway in London, which in those days was as popular as football is today. A glamorous, high powered and unlikely occupation for a woman at that time. It would be like a woman running Manchester United Football team today and she would possibly do a better job.

Tippie Thorpe was the third of my grandfather's daughters. My mother Honey Thorpe being the fourth. As with all middle class children of that age they were shipped off to boarding school in Belgium and left there for years. It must have been daunting for them both and I know my mother never recoverd. At sometime my Aunt lost an eye but she never let it bother her all her life.

Tippie was most impressive and fiesty. She could be quite forceful if displeased as I found out when I was three! I bit her daughter who though the same age was much bigger than I and would never let me pass on the stairs. This bite caused a family uproar as it was Xmas 1946. Tippie was furious with me packed up her family went home to Southend taking the turkey with her. You can imagine the scene. One family Christmas dinner all set to go and no turkey! My grandmother took three years to forgive her but I suppose even at three I was to blame. I still feel guilty.

Tippie and Arthur were well off by my family standards. Arthur owned a munitions factory in the war and did well. They had  big houses, mink coats, Jaguar cars and world cruises to Australia when the rest of us were on rations but my Auntie was just so nice it didn't seem to matter to me. Think it did to my mother. Living in a semi detached in Stanmore on nothing and watching your sister cruising around the world leading the life of a Movie Star could not have been easy.

Once in M&S I desperately wanted a Mohair Stole like my cousin and Auntie Tip would have bought it for me but my mother's pride did not allow. I shall always remember her kindness that day. When  I was 8 my grandmother died  AuntieTippie could not bring herself to go to the funeral so we sat alone together in the strange Indian Room at my grandfather's home  and she talked  to me seriously and treated me like an adult. It was the first time anyone in my  family had done so. That's what I liked about Auntie Tip, she alone in my family treated me as an adult and not as a silly little girl.

Later Auntie Tippie put on fabulous Christmas parties, real glass balls on the Christmas trees and real pork. Her family had to do without bacon for a whole year to save the rations and I feel sure she saw to it that my Xmas presents were on par with her own children as Mummy and Daddy could never have run to it.

Auntie Tippie showed the 1930's world what a woman can do given the chance! She ran a top class Speedway club for years. I loved watching her putting on the events and she and Uncle Arthur once took me in their Jaguar to Bristol to watch Uncle Arthur ride. I was about eight and it was such an adventure for me. She did not even seem to mind me being sick in the car!

Here is a gorgeous picture of them both when young and in love to remember them by! It was taken by my father and I think it is just so young and fresh and shows something of her enjoyment of life.

Tippie was worth much more than with which she has been  credited. Had she been a man with an education who knows what she might have achieved. I  am proud to be her neice.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

NZ wins 90-year Australia Apple War

NZ wins 90-year Australia apple war
New Zealand has won its long-running apple war against Australia.A World Trade Organization decision issued in Geneva early this morning ruled against Canberra's efforts to block imports of Kiwi apples.
"It is a stunning victory for New Zealand," said Trade Minister Tim Groser.
Australia has refused for 90 years to let New Zealand apples be sold there, claiming fire blight in New Zealand apples would infect its apple and pear orchards.
New Zealand has maintained that the ban was imposed to protect local growers, which is against WTO rules.
Even after the scientific evidence went against Australia, it refused New Zealand apple growers free access to its markets.

It set up conditions deemed impractical by New Zealand growers, such as bathing apples in chlorine disinfectant and storing them for weeks.

 So says the New Zealand Herald  when reporting the victory, and even so Australia is going to appeal.

So much for Free Trade. Australia our closest neighbour and alley has kept NZ Apples off their market for ninety years because of fire blight which has been known to reside in the Melbourne Botanic Gardens  for decades. Australia actually has fire blight and they know this but still have moved heaven and earth to keep out a few NZ Apples.

NZ does Free Trade but it seems no other country in the world does it quite like us. USA denies NZ produce entry and so does the Common Market while trumpeting Free Trade for the rest of us.  NZ could supply India with all the meat it needed if we were allowed to do so but we are not. The rules do not apply to the rich and powerful.

I don't know how The Australian Government can look NZ in the eye after this. It is just another example Australia First is the order of the day and to hell with everybody else.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ladies who Lunch NZ Style

About twice a year I become a Lady who Lunches when I have coffee with my two friends at Smith & Caughey, Auckland's answer to Harrods or Horrids as we used to call it in London. However S&C unlike Horrids is not vulgar just wonderful.

Auckland may be small but you can buy virtually everything that you could buy in Paris or London but you have to look for it. S&C has a brilliant selection of clothes from Paris and Italy as well as NZ designers like Trelise Cooper whose clothes I adore. Here is me wearing a gorgeous embroidered coat.

It was a size too big and sadly I have no need of such a coat these days as I seldom go out but at least I got to wear it once. Highly recommended.

I have one or two couture items but they are second hand but it is lovely to be able to look and feel. Some of the things designers are doing with fabrics these days is magical and it is enough for me to see and admire. I do not need to own.

By chance we happened on a 'Sale' day! Oh I love sales, especially in the perfumery department. Again I can't travel so this is my chance to stock up. I love French perfumes that smell of oranges and sandalwood which is now off the menu.

So delicious coffee, cakes and conversation and a return visit to buy all those things I left on the shelf.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Auckland's Secret Garden The Wintergarden

The Wintergarden in Auckland is perhaps Auckland's best kept secret after the fact that Auckland City Libraries has the four first folios of Shakespeare.

It is the most beautiful Victorian/Edwardian greenhouse ever and is on a par with Chelsea. Whichever season you go it is always a smash hit. I love it as you can see in the video below.

The Wintergarden was built in 1913 for the International Exhibition and is the only remnant left of this long forgotten event. I know all about it as I am a collector of NZ postage stamps for which the NZ Post issued a set of stamps well over prints and genuine overprints of these stamps are worth a considerable amount of serious money. It took me several years to save up for them.

So for me the Wintergarden holds a double fascination.

I felt a poem coming on for YouTube, 'The Daffodils' by Wordsworth which I learned at my drama/ballet school. Luckily it is winter here in NZ so I thought I might be lucky and find some in the Wintergarden... no such luck! It was kale again. Whenever I go in winter it is always kale and cactus. Not really what I wanted but as usual it was a fabulous display of cabbages and prickly things.

My poem will have to wait a fortnight until the Auckland Regional Gardens mass display of daffs. I mean I must have some massed daffs 'fluttering and dancing in the breeze' and with YouTube being tough on copyright these days they have to be my own images! I don't want Google ads all over my channel.

If you come to Auckland make sure you visit the Wintergarden as you will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

How do the Banks do it?

Global banking giant HSBC unveiled bumper half-year profits of £7billion today - then outlined plans to hand more than £6 billion 'compensation' to its staff.
But HSBC bosses immediately risked stirring public fury when they revealed that 'just over 20 per cent' of revenue had been allocated for employee compensation.  Daily Mail
What I'd like to know is how the banks do it?
The rest of the world is struggling financially. Countries like Greece,  Spain, Portugal and UK having to face and intense period of monetary restraint, All of us New Zealand included have found our standard of living declining and yet here are the banks, after a dramatic financial crisis, producing massive profits! How?

No only massive profits but now the banks intend to offer £6 billion in compensation to their staff. What for? For bringing the world to its knees? The politicians and our world leaders  seem prepared to sit back and let them get away with screwing the rest of us yet again!

I fail to understand why the banks are allowed to do this? Bankers today are just gamblers, big gamblers of the sort that inhabit Las Vegas. The difference is the banks are doing it with our money.  To make money by gambling you have to have lots of cash and take big risks. You have to hedge!

How do I know all this? When I was a child life was quite boring especially in school holidays. I had a proper little roulette wheel with chips and table and I spent hours playing roulette! I soon learned that if one had lots of chips and 'covered the table' one hardly ever lost. If I started with just 10 chips I never won.

Bankers today are free to gamble with my money. The lack of regulation means any bank is free to take enormous risks, the local high street bank is now a high roller and of course although they win most of the time the odd occasion arises when the high roller loses the lot.

Then the gambler/banker needs refinancing on a huge scale and guess who did that? Us!!!!!!

The bankers are in fact laughing all the way to their bank! What suckers we are to trust them!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Lohengrin - The Knight in Shining Armour?

'A Knight in Shining Armour' that's what every damsel in distress could do with! A strong, good looking handsome man that will come along out of the blue and rescue a maiden .

It is every girl's dream, 'Elsa's Dream' from Lohengrin, an early opera by
Richard Wagner, for those unfamiliar with the music it is where the popular Bridal wedding March 'Here comes the Bride' comes from.

Lohengrin is on the surface a fairy story where once again an innocent child/ woman is rescued by  a hero.

Elsa is accused of murder and is in danger of being burnt as a murderess if she cannot find a Knight who will fight for her honour. She prays for such a Knight and low and behold a handsome Knight in the form of Lohengrin turns up  clutching a swan.

Lohengrin, for that is his name but nobody knows it, is everything a girl could desire. He is rich, good looking, strong with great social status. Lohengrin even asks Elsa to marry him but and it is a big BUT there is one condition, there always is. Elsa is not to ask his 'name' or from 'whence he came'.

Now this is like asking Eve not to eat the apple. Once someone is told not to do something trivial it become almost obligatory that one does. After all Elsa doesn't know Lohengrin from Adam. Lohengrin could be anyone and why shouldn't a girl know the name of whom she is marrying? So she asks for  his name and Lohengrin departs!

So like a man, duty first - wife second! If Lohengrin had been a real man and loved his wife he would have stayed but no he takes off leaving his wife to get on with it alone.That will teach her a lesson. Do what you are told or face the consequences.

Times have changed. In Wagner's time Elsa used to be considered the villainess. How like a stupid woman! All she had to do was to keep her mouth shut and know her place. Lohengrin was the hero let down by his wife and in justice had to depart. He told her the conditions and like Eve, Elsa stuffed up! Punishment is obligatory.  All women are stupid and need to be controlled.

Today it is somewhat different. Now it is Lohengrin who is made to look like a real jerk that he is. The conditions were unreasonable and Lohengrin stood to benefit from the bargain He could after all win the contest with one hand tied behind his back and anyway the girl was innocent.  Any decent man would have rescued her and departed without payment or stayed on regardless of any silly promise.

First sign of trouble and Lohengrin's off and yes a woman should know who she is marrying. Arranged marriages with the bride in total ignorance of the partner for life is now not socially unacceptable. Given a good lawyer and a sound judicial system Elsa would have got off and been allowed to keep her property.

Wagner would be surprised!