The ban on love

By December 22, 2016 Blog, Opera

Today’s track is from a little known opera by Wagner. The purists dismiss it as trivial, but being a trivial sort of person, I don’t mind admitting I like it; in fact, I like it a lot.

The justification for including it is rather tenuous, but valid. I’ve just finished reading Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd and thoroughly enjoyed it. The story starts in Vienna. Our hero is an actor and one of the roles he plays, on his return to London, is Angelo in Measure for Measure, which is also set in Vienna – Boyd describes it as ‘this strange play about lechery and purity, moral corruption and virtue’.  Wagner used the Bard’s M for M as the basis of his second opera – das Liebesverbot.  But once old Richard moved into the heavy teutonic stuff, he allegedly tried to distance himself from das Liebesverbot, saying it was far too Italian. It must be remembered, though, that he was only 21 when he wrote it and I bet a lot of us would be delighted to think that the most embarrassing thing we did at that age was to write an opera like this – I know I would. But I’m afraid he has to take some of the blame himself – instead of setting it in Vienna, as per the original, he decided to move it to Palermo. Let’s be fair, you can’t move your opera to Sicily and then complain that it’s too Italian.

The picture is from my continuing quest for the perfect café. Having written in an earlier post that I can’t write – and don’t even want to write – in places like Starbucks, I find that I can pen the odd word or two in some of Vienna’s coffeehouses. I think it’s a combination of absorbing the vibe of those greats who have coffee’d there in earlier times and the complete absence of muzak. Having just read Boyd’s book, I thought I would pop in to Café Sorgenfrei, which features in his novel, but it is no longer there, if indeed it ever was, since I can find no reference to it anywhere.   I had another couple of interesting places to try and first on the list was Das Moped – a retro café serving superb coffee and excellent grub. The furnishings are an eclectic mix from the 50s through the 70s and the back room resembles the sitting-room I remember from childhood. First impressions were that it would make an excellent writing space, but second impressions were clouded by an excess of the Beach Boys – nothing against them, but there’s only so much I can take. Next stop was especially for my cat obsessed Facebook friends – Café Neko. Apparently, the coffee space is shared with a number of rescue cats that you can stroke whilst quaffing your latte. I’m afraid I didn’t get beyond the front door. One of the things I’m looking for in my perfect café is a good ambience, and an excess of ‘No [insert as appropriate]’ signs doesn’t bode well atmospherically. No smoking – ok, Vienna is going the way of other European cities; no dogs – guess that’s sensible given that it’s a cat café; no photography – it was rather too bland to even warrant a photograph. Of course, it’s up to the owners what they allow and do not allow in their café, but I found the barrage of red stickers rather a turn-off. There are many other ways of indicating that certain behaviours are not welcome.  For example, if you want to ban love, write an opera about it, which brings us neatly full circle back to das Liebesverbot, of which there’s a nice little clip here. There are plenty of You-Tube videos of the whole thing, if you’re looking for some jolly music whilst trimming the tree.