Intermezzo

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Perhaps he just wasn’t in the mood for opera that night. Perhaps it was because he’d never liked that particular opera anyway. Or perhaps this performance wasn’t up to scratch. But as he queued for coffee at the interval, he wondered if he could really endure the torture of the final act where this ludicrous plot would rise to a crescendo of stupidity with the entire company caterwauling through seemingly endless iterations of the farcical resolution as if everyone in the audience had suddenly gone DEAF.

Had he been on his own, he would seriously have considered leaving at the interval. But even then, the thought of his now vacant seat looming out of the stalls like an overt insult to the performers, would probably have dissuaded him. He felt no ill will towards the cast. They had given their all: singing with gusto; strutting the stage with unequivocal commitment. And the set designers and costume-makers had done their job. No. The fault lay with the composer, for not making the melodies more tuneful; and the librettist, for devising such ridiculous recitative. Or perhaps the true fault was to be found in the argument he’d had with his employer that afternoon and the fact that this silly tale of intrigue and mistaken identity now seemed mind-numbingly trivial in the context of his potential dismissal; or at least, demotion.

Art is not reality. It is the world, dramatized. It is the world we’d like to live in where heroes are ultimately victorious and villains always get their comeuppance; where we, ourselves, are the heroes: proud and capable and fearless; unencumbered by mundane considerations such as mortgages and job security and what to cook for this evening’s dinner.

He reached the coffee counter just as a voice through the loudspeaker announced that the final act would begin in ten minutes. To buy, or not to buy? What would Figaro do?

Can I please / have a large / macchiato;
And a small / skimmed milk / cappuccino;
And for me / I would like / a soy latte;
And a large / double decaf / for the wife;
Yes I said / I would like / a soy latte;
And a large / double decaf / for the wife.

That was when he discovered that the bar staff do not think highly of patrons who appear to mock the opera. Nor did the security guard who gripped his arm and intoned intimidatingly: “Thou shalt frolic no more.”

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