It shouldn’t have even been a day. I should have been on the first plane out on the morning of the 15th, but it was so good to see Kevin and Bert-Jan, so good to be able to chatter away about real life over an Amsterdam rooftops barbecue and some really cold beer .. much as I love the ships, this is why one comes off them. And so, I decided ‘I am the master of my fate’ and decided to book my new flights to Nottingham and Jersey for Friday instead of Thursday. Of course, this being 2008, instead of costing 90 pounds as the early-booked ones had, it was now more like 300 pounds. Days were when it was the reverse. I’m told this nastiness was invented by the Americans at Easyjet, and BMI baby has copied it. I would think that the less like Easyjet any airline is the more likely I would be to travel with them, sotake it from there ..
My ‘treat’ day began gently and in a civilised fashion with lounging coffee and emails (so much catching up to do!) until, in the late morning, Kevin and I strolled down into the heart of Amsterdam, across all those delightful Grachts, through the pretty old buildings, and stopped off for a bite at the Eetsalon van Dobben, a treat-place of Kevin’s youthful days, where you sit at the bar and have delicious instantly prepared sandwiches of the softest white bread and lashings of interesting liver sausage, accompanied by a glass of cold milk. Ah, yes, civilised.
In the afternoon, Kevin had an interview, and the lady journalist arrived in the company of Mr Fred Bredschneyder. Fred, now aged eighty-one, has long, long been Holland’s most respected musical-theatre scholar, and he has published several books on our subject. He is also an extremely nice and interesting man and, while Kevin was being interviewed, we gossiped merrily ... for two and a half hours! Of course, once Kevin rejoined us, the whole room took on an air of being an Operetta Summit Conference .. all we needed was to fly Andrew Lamb from Croydon and Christophe Mirambeau from Paris and it would have been like the Operetta Congress of Amsterdam 2008. And, of course,as we know, Der Kongress tanzt.
Come evening time, Basia Jaworski, operatic critic, joined us, and over some yummy pasta and much champagne, we devoured a very curious film called Opera Fanatics in which an unattractive American ‘expert’ made a fool of himself ‘interviewing’ some now aged operatic singers of olden times. Simionato treated him with undeserved dignity. Gencer met his feeble flirtations with amused disdain, Marcella Pobbe, who wouldn’t play ball with his rude questions, was edited to look foolish. The only real joy for me was the discovery of the hitherto unknown to me Carla Gavazzi singing and acting Cavalleria Rusticana (my favourite opera) in a fashion I have never seen equalled. A true opera gem.
The operatics done, Kevin and I chatted on into the night about things other than music and theatre until, with the morrow’s early plane in our minds, we tiptoed off to sleep.
A lovely day in Amsterdam, a day in my ‘old’ world of music, which I suppose will, in a way, always be at least a part of my now world.