Team VA's Wonderings

Monday, January 08, 2007

Figaro, Figaro

Not sure where that comes from, but it's not Mozart's the Marriage of Figaro, which I went to see at the Opera house last night. I reckon that you'll know the overture, even if you're not familiar with the opera. Here's some clues

'Please to help with my ruck-sack.'
'Beef jerky?'
'I can walk!'
'There is something rotten in the Heritage Club'.
Denholm Elliott cooking a tasty looking breakfast.
Winthrop, fallen on hard times, dressed as Santa stuffing a smoked salmon in his jacket.
And of course, the mighty Clarence Beeks. Dressed as a gorilla.

I could go on; I already have. By now you either know the music is used for the opening sequences of Trading Places, or you need to stop reading this and go and watch Trading Places. Now.

Fortunately, this is one of the few operas I know, so being distracted for the first 5 minutes by memories of Eddie Murphy wasn't a problem. I thought it was a terrific production and very funny: it used the essential bawdy humour of Mozart, while giving it a modern edge. Musically, I thought it was superb, tho I'm far from best placed to judge. And no trace of an Australian accent in any of the performers.

The view from the bar's not bad either

Nicole told me they don't sell out and I might get a reduced price ticket on the night. Technically, I guess she was right, but I think I found a new way of doing it.

Most people buy their ticket in advance. As you all know, I'm not most people. I wasn't sure which night I'd fit the opera in and so it was a mad rush. My original plan was to get back to circular quay, buy a ticket, go to the hostel, shower, change, eat and have a drink before kick off. By the time the ferry docked, the shower, food and drink were clearly not happening. When I got to the box office, the massive queue demanded a change to a new high risk strategy-go back to hostel, change, head back and hope the queue had died down and I could get a ticket and get in before they shut the doors. Fail, and I'd have to wander Sydney's streets feeling overdressed.

It was looking good when I walked up to the box office, past the huge collection queue and stood behind the 3 people, who were trying to buy tickets, so I was a touch disappointed to learn that all 1400 seats were sold. I was to stay on the 'looking hopeful/might as well give and up go rollercoaster' for the next half hour.

The box office told me to stand by a wall in the entrance foyer, where there was a queue that people with spares were sent to. My optimism surged as the only two people in front of me had tickets almost as soon as I'd said hello.

I then stood on my own for 20 minutes.

Standing on your own, trying to look approachable, while looking at everyone who goes past (in case they're hesistantly fingering a spare ticket) seemed the best idea. I'm pretty sure the result was that I looked like the bloke whose blind date had stood him up. Especially as every time a pretty girl walked past, I'd look all hopeful that I'd be her neighbour for the next 3 hours, only to be disappointed. Again.

Finally another couple of people joined me and just as it looked like our chance had gone, a lady came over from the box office to say they had some tickets. Saved.

There were about 6 or 7 different price points for tickets, I was OK with the 3 lowest-up to $105. Not the $187 they had. I turned away, giving up. Andrew, who was in the same boat, followed me saying 'that's more than I paid for all my ashes tickets'. Without really thinking, I headed disconsolately back to the wall. And then someone offered us one ticket. For free.

Then I got all English-two people, 1 ticket, what to do? My brain must have been overloaded by an excess of manners, as Andrew made the obvious suggestion to split the cost of buying a second ticket and spend one half of the performance in each seat. We ran to the box office, got a ticket and legged it up the steps.

They shut the doors behind me as I went in; the idiot's approach to getting Sydney Opera House tickets had worked. Just. I guess it's a touch more memorable than using ticketmaster and my seat for the first half was top drawer. I enjoyed looking at the building's interior and trying to understand how it relates to the exterior. I've just realised that I missed the Barmy Army cruise: I booked this at the same time as the Xmas lunch. The idea was to cruise round the harbour on the evening the Ashes concluded. It was meant to be a celebration.....

For anyone who's been following the leit motif of John goes up to a high place and feels wobbly, I have disappointing news. I'm not going on the harbour bridge climb. It's $180, so I went to the opera instead. And kept the change.

Before Figaro, the morning breakfast with the rest of the Oxford crew was very good, even if it did cost the same as night's accomodation and 2 usual meals. I'd never heard of the famous TV chef, but that's good as it means I didn't put any money in the pockets of Ramsay or the one that looks like a goblin.

Afterwards I took a rain check on Bondi to head to Manly with Pete and Nicole, returning on the ferry to circular quay, snapping the harbour bridge and opera house like a tourist crazed on PCP, angel dust; have you seen what that stuff does to kids? By now, you're supposed to have watched Trading Places.

I spent Sunday wandering round the historic area, the catholic cathedral and the botanic gardens. At least I did till the rain got on my nerves and I went home for a nap. Hyde Park barracks was full of convict history, they even had a convict database. Inevitably, I typed in the names of several notorious n'er do wells, but only 2 came up. It was a close contest, but I can reveal the results: John Adams 4 Richard Hughes 3. Seems appropriate, really.

The British transported their citizens to Australia for some dashed funny things. Bigamy, swearing and any poor sod driven to stealing trowsers' deserves sympathy in my opinion.

The convict theme continued at the state library, which had a slightly disappointing exhibition on daring convict escapes.

In the evening (after dinner and my nap), I noticed that an Arts cinema was showing the African Queen. I hadn't seen it in a while and was struck by how very like my trip it was. There were white water rapids and animals. There was drunkeness and monsoon like rain. The bugs attacked in swarms. Bogart spent much of the movie looking like a tramp (very much my style in African). And of course, there were Germans. I assume it was a spirit of reconciliation that handed the film's best 2 lines to the German captain who sentenced Bogey to be executed

'I think I shall hang you twice'

'I now pronounce you man and wife; proceed with execution'

For the full effect you need to do it with the accent and without taking a breath on the latter.

Sydney held the 2000 Olympic games; this followed the 'games that Coke bought' in Atlanta-by common consent the worst run in history. When your plan is to demolish the Olympic stadium after the Games to make a car park for the local rounders team, I wonder what you're doing staging the games. Before Sydney there was a lot of media nonsense that this was 'make-or-break' for the Olympics: bollox-as if the world's largest sporting event could disappear. Nonetheless, the pressure was certainly on Sydney; the games were such a great success that now the media burbled about the rebirth. Less vocal, but more pertinent, were the commentators who observed that Sydney had put enormous pressure on Athens for 2004. A sports mad public was a huge asset for Sydney and I firmly believe the British passion for sport landed London its 3rd Olympics. The Aussies even left London sufficient space to add in 2012.

Olympic nerd fact: in 2012 London will become the first city to stage 3 proper modern Games, but it has only been awarded the Olympics once. Rome pulled out in 1908, after a natural disaster that I think was an earthquake; Helsinki should have hosted 1948 (postponed due to the war), but wasn't ready till 52. Both times London stepped in to keep the Olympics going; who knows if we'd still have the Olympics, had one or both of those Games been cancelled. I love stuff like that.

Today, I took the ferry ride to the main Olympic park; the Olympic village was refurbished (bedrooms converted to kitchens etc) and sold to the public. They're very lucky-I'd love to live Emile Zatopek or Merlene Ottey Street. The Olympic park handled 350-400 thousand spectators a day; the main Olympic stadium a record 110.

I went on the tour of the former Olympic stadium. Sadly the stadium has been renamed the Telstra stadium; I'm sure this is due to what the owners call commercial realities. I'm currently watching Marcos Bagdhatis at the Olympic tennis venue nextdoor (I noticed one of the Oz open warm up tournaments was on and pottered in); a steward, looking out for commercial realities, has just made some fans take their Cypriot flag down. It was obstructing a sponsor's logo you see. Who's buying stuff because the name's painted on a bit of wood? Stop it.

The cancer that is corporate hospitality and 'VIPs' infected the tour to such an extent that it focused on boxes and member's areas and ignored something like this.

The wall celebrated Cathy Freeman (Olympic flame lighter and 400m gold medalist) and commiserated with Jane Saville (Sydneysider disqualified as she entered the stadium, just 150m from the walk gold medal). Fortunately, I knew all this. By the way, the particularly good painting is by a 16 year old.

It was worth it though for 2 things-neither of which had anything to do with the marketing department or corporate freeloaders.

This is the dressing room used by England on the 22nd of November 2003. The day they won the World Cup. I think I was the only English person not to have my photo taken sat in Jonny's locker-I wanted to sit in Johnno's, but the guide didn't know which one was his. He's been here tho

In order to 'realise the stadium's business plan' capacity was reduced by 27,000 after the Olympics; I think the Aussies knee we were going to win and just didn't want yet another 27,000 English watching Johnno lift the cup.

I did make sure I had my photo taken here tho

Michael Johnson stood up here. Twice. Think he earned it more than me. Denise Lewis and Songs of Praise presenter Jonathan Edwards also picked up their gold medals here.

Outside the stadium, underneath the cauldron in which the Olympic flame burned are plaques with every medallist. Including these boys (you may need to click on the photo for the blow up)

In this case, it seems to a scale representation of their winning margin. All the paralympians also have a plaque. Tanni-grey's there and so is Sascha

I'll leave the Ultimate Olympian to leave a comment/post a link about Sascha. I wonder how many of the medallists know it's there.


  • Well spotted, that's way cool! Sascha never told me about that.

    And for that I shalst travel to Australia and scribble his name out!

    Enjoy your travels. Timo (Sascha's twin)

    By Blogger Unknown, at 6:00 PM  

  • winning margin of 0.08s for our boys wasn't it? Pissed it. So much so that they decided to leave an even smaller gap at Athens.


    By Blogger swisslet, at 8:44 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home