Thursday, July 30, 2020

Ditch Overseas Travel and Eliminate Covid 19 in UK

UK Guardian 30 July 2020

At last! The first commonsense article that I have seen about how to deal with Covid 19. in UK, eliminate it!
UK is an island like New Zealand where I live. NZ has eliminated Covid 19 and let me tell you life here is normal, very normal. NZ is now taking its holidays at home for the immediate future but no masks, no social distancing and life as normal.
The UK could do this as it is an Island and at last, even a very slow Boris has got around contemplating doing this too. A bit late but it can still be done. Do it UK! Then I can come home and visit you and you can visit me. You can't at the moment. You are all too dangerous for NZ, in the nicest possible way.
It takes about five weeks. It does mean going to abroad for holidays is out for a bit till other countries get their Covid 19 under control but the benefits are enormous. No more 30,000 deaths and masks and the inconvenience of it all. I have never had to wear a mask, I feel safe and I can go and shop anywhere. NZ just has to police those coming in as they bring it and if the UK cannot see it yet that is where the infections come from. One infected passenger is one infection too many. I realise lots of my FB friends have homes in France and Spain and have visited but one has to make a few sacrifices. NZ did this. It was tough but the rewards are worth it. If everyone is in the same boat it is not so bad.
So if elimination of Covid 19 is suggested and not just control, go for it otherwise your life is going to be ghastly for the next few years and UK theatres, sports and cafes will never get going again.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

What is Received English? Janette Miller

Received English. 

Who speaks it these days. I do but I am one of the last to do so.
The UK has lots of regional accents but the strangest of all is known as Received English which foxes everyone. It is the typical BBC English which is going out of fashion but it what I speak. In my day you had and it is "strange"!
I have only just found out.
You have to learn this accent. In my day it was taught in schools. It hides brilliantly your social class and in a class-ridden country like UK this is very useful.
Today Received English is taught in language schools and weirdly many expats children who never set foot in UK speak it too. Richard E Grant is one and Freddie Mercury. It is absolutely impossible to tell which class they belong to.
So does my accent hide my class? Yes it does. To a lower-class person I sound "posh" but to aristocrats they cannot place me, they know by the way I say "often" and "cat" I am not one of them but am I upper-middle or working class? I could be either.
So what am I? I am not sure. I was raised in what I thought was a middle-class household but my grandfathers were of the people who rose from the working class and to succeed both families spoke "Received English". I am me! 
Possibly "Trade" which was unfashionable, did not do to be a banker but now is very fashionable. Both the working and upper classes look down on "Trade"
So now you know.

2009 Falstaff Verdi Covid Live Streaming from Glyndebourne in 2020

Falstaff Verdi Glyndebourne 2009

Just watched a totally "delicious" Falstaff, 2009 Glyndebourne. This was Verdi's last opera, written at the age of 80, his only comedy and for once a decent libretto and what a difference that made. There are sections when Verdi could not resist "I'm a scale going down, I'm a scale going down"  but it is very high class, quality and according to Britten and my husband and they certainly should know Verdi's best opera and the only one either would deign to go and see. 

This production is set in Windsor in about 1947 just after the Second World War with loads of cabbages in the garden and very dull clothes.

No coupons for clothes or furniture at that time and no bottles of Scotch either. I was born in Windsor so I know and love it well and was leaving nearby in Taplow at that time and our garden was full of cabbages that none of us ate. I lived in that type of Middle-class house too so it was very nostalgic. The curtains looked rather new though. Nobody had new curtains until after 1953!

The "Falstaff" was superb. Best I have ever seen and I have seen quite a few and I liked the resetting. It worked very well. Loved the production, no clinging to the furniture, perhaps just once but on this occasion allowable.

I could even take the stuffed, puppet cat on the counter which was quite cute however there were two more stuffed cats possibly more later on that failed to amuse. Please note one stuffed cat is enough.

I could happily watch this again as it was so enjoyable and I probably shall. That is praise from me indeed.  Bravo Glyndebourne and a big thank you for making it available to those of us who could never get in in better days. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Metropolitan Opera New York's magnificent response to the Covid 19 Virus 2020

Metropolitan Opera New York's magnificent response to the Covid 19 Virus 2020

This virus is a tragedy for opera and opera lovers. The live performing arts have taken the biggest hit and it will take a tremendous effort to recover. The Met is doing a fantastic job. I live in Auckland, New Zealand and I am impressed and grateful at the Mets swift action and generosity. The last weeks have been a feast for me and I have watched an opera virtually every day. The Met has allowed me to "catch up" in a way that I could never have imagined at the beginning of this year. 
This week is no exception with a feast of operatic masterpieces including Gounod's "Romeo & Juliet" which is one of the few operas I have actually seen live at the Met. I am not sure if it is the same production that I saw. We shall see.
I was in New York to sell my Children's Ballet series "Dance Tales Story Ballets" made with the help of the Royal Ballet Covent Garden and the BBC but I could only afford the gallery which was tremendous as I could go every night to an opera for 10 days. In the interval, I went to buy a souvenir from the stall on the first-floor foyer and the woman who served me got into conversation. I told her about my visit and gave her my business card.
She asked where I was sitting, the gallery and immediately I was invited to watch the rest of the production from her box! It was dead centre but one to Stage Left. I have no idea who she was and she would not give me her name but it was a truly wonderful gesture, one which I shall never forget.
The next interval I was invited into the special room to see the special guests meet but really only just to look not to mingle. Pity because my project could have done with a bit of help. So Gounod's "Romeo & Juliet" has very special memories.
What happened to "Dance Tales"? Well, it was made and shown all over the world but not in the USA as I was told patronisingly by CBS and ABC that USA television only did cartoons for children! Nobody was interested in live ballet! I was suitably humbled by this experience. The series did finish as a finalist in the LA Monitor Awards for best-edited programme so it did deserve to be seen but not in USA as it appears ballet is not suitable for children. We never saw USA Tv in 1986 so I had no idea that this was the USA policy.
The three USA TV channels did love a character in my project which I have yet to present to the world and went quite mad about it. I was taken out to breakfast at The Hollywood Hotel on the strength of it. It was and is that good but that is another story.
I had no intention of writing this, this morning but now seems a good time. Please continue to review as it is so good for opera. Reviews like this take time and effort and I am, for one extremely grateful.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Separating the art from the artist" BBC World, Y-Factor Presenter Edwina Pitman

"Separating the art from the artist" BBC World, Y-Factor Presenter Edwina Pitman.

Yesterday I heard this programme on the BBC and the presenter, Edwina Pitman explained so beautifully exactly how I have felt about artists real lives and their work ever since I read the appalling behaviour, child abuse misogyny practised by Beethoven who if he did today makes Epstein look like the Archangel Gabriel!
Beethoven's unacceptable behaviour is well documented in the official court papers and in his communication notebooks so it is all true. Many find this hard to believe but the evidence is there in black and white. Read the book Beethoven and his Nephew for the whole grisly tale. You will never be able to hear the music in the same light again knowing how Beethoven got the effect.
This year, 2020 Beethoven has been worshipped again as it is an anniversary but would people enjoy the "Ode to Joy" so much if they realised that Beethoven stole his nephew from his mother, stopped composing for years and only wrote the 9th Symphony when he had won his case against the mother. The "Ode to Joy" corresponds with this tainted victory over a woman
The whole discussion brings this strange human trait into focus. It is happening all the time.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Cosi Fan Tutte on The Abuse of Women.

Still watching an opera a day and this is about my third Cosi in the Covid 19 world.
I love the music, but it is such a cruel, abusive piece. Tricking two innocent women into being unfaithful and then palming it off as a joke may have been acceptable in Mozart's day but not now. My favourite Spanish version ends in tragedy for the young women and young men. It is a horrible way to win a bet.

Beautiful traditional production but one could tell none of the singers was happy performing it as is shown in the commentary at the end.  They have to do this to live. The Dorabella was very unhappy when the young women are made to apologise for an indiscretion that was forced upon them  and their abusive boyfriends get off scot-free. It is an appalling piece. With hindsight, it is rather grisly to see the fawning. on the now known to be flawed James Levine. Maybe we should change the end as they did in Madrid.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

"A Room of my Own" Virginia Woolf was right about girl's education

Janette Miller aged seven
School days! They ought to be the happiest days of one's life but my first school, for me was a nightmare. The photo above brings it all back to me and at 77 I feel I have the right to feel cheated.
I have been rereading Virginia Woolf recently since I watch the wonderful Royal Ballet's production "Woolf Words" and I do so feel so related to her. In "A room of her Own" she was very annoyed, well furious, that she had been denied the education supplied to her brothers. Woolf just did not get one. She had to self educate and when I look back at this photo, you can see then in the background I was 7 and the nuns had still not taught me how to read or even add up! I was taught to believe in invisible friends by being made to stand on my desk for three hours till I said I could see a gnome sitting on the French windows. I refused! I gave as good as I got, I gave up on God at that moment as I realised that he was possibly a figment of the sister's imagination too. It took three hours of me standing on my desk before I gave way and I still regret doing that. I was amazed as everyone else in the class including sister could see him. This gnome followed me for the next 4 years.
The friend in front in this photo remembers the occasion well and has written about it saying the experience was brutal and cruel so I am not making this up. I never told my parents. I should have done as my father would have removed me as he did when I was 13. I had come first in class but because I was a non-catholic, I was the child of a mixed marriage and brought up as an RC, it would never do for a child who had not been formally baptised and the child of an excommunicated mother to win the RC prize so the nuns just lost my exam papers and instead of first I came close to the bottom of the class. My father said all my brains were in my feet and sent me to ballet school!
Fortunately, at seven years old. I managed to learn to read quite soon after this and from that moment on I was self-taught., like Virginia Woolf. My grandfather had a TV in 1947 and the BBC really went for "educate, entertain and inform". I had seen most of Shakespeare and Shaw by the time I was 10. He also had a marvellous library and my mother bless her took me to art galleries, the ballet and opera. However, I did not get any science, or sex education! I gave up on God. I was right about this as when DNA turned up I realised there was No Adam & Eve and thus NO Sin! The God of the Bible was as imaginary as Red Cap and I could prove it.
My father had gone to the best schools himself and yet had sent me to be educated by young Irish Catholic nuns. Like Virginia Woolf, I still feel bitter. I missed out on a university education which even the nuns thought I deserved. Having put me bottom of my class for religious reasons, they had the nerve to say to my father that "It was a pity that Janette was leaving for a ballet school because she was clever enough could have gone to Oxford." My father did not relent.
However, the school was an architectural delight hence my love of architecture. I should indeed have loved to be an architect or a farmer and I ended up producing opera and ballet which I love too. I now have a "Room of my own" but a bit late.