Tod has a bad back again and decided to retreat to bed for the day. So I had a decision to make: to go or not, to the opera highlights at Penne-d'Agenais on my own? I'm glad I went.
Mid-afternoon, when I got in the car after my lesson with Yvette, the thermometer said 41ºC and the oven-hot stickiness continued right through the evening. We all sat, wedged thigh to thigh, in a much-too-small-for-the-occasion barn, with the soloists and orchestra sweating gently only inches from the front row. Elegant French ladies in wafer-thin dresses wafted their programmes in an attempt to keep cool. But the discomfort and heat were forgotten in the joy of the singing.
Old favourites - Au Fond du Temple Saint from Bizet's The Pearl Fishers The Flower Duet, from Delibes' Lakme; Nessun Dorma from Puccini's Turandot - were interspersed with (for me) the less well-known - Thomas's Hamlet, Bellini's Norma and Rossini's Moise.
During a night that resounded with bravos, the performances I will especially remember are the rich, soaring voice of the mezzo-soprano, Tatiana Varapai, singing Saint Saens' Dalilah; the tenor, Stephan David, and the baritone, Guilhem Souyri, singing the heart-aching duet from the Pearl Fishers and the delicate harmonies between sopranos Olivera Toalovic and Florence Gelas in the Flower Duet.
I regretted Tod was not there to share it and I know what I'll be looking out for next summer.
Bizet: O Fond du Temple Saint:
Delibes: Flower Duet:
L'Orchestre du Centre Philomonique: