What excels the pleasure of the chase?

By December 26, 2016Blog, Opera

Boxing Day and that British tradition – the meet of the hunt. I have no idea where we are in terms of the legislation on this, as there are so many loopholes, exceptions and workarounds, as well as artificial trails (aniseed balls?). But they still do it in the Archers, because Shula is about to become a master of the hunt (or is that mistress?). Then there was all that kerfuffle when she covered up the behaviour of the ghastly Rob Titchener and a fox was definitely killed on that occasion. Or was that the source of the problem … that they were supposed to be hunting aniseed balls and inadvertently found a fox? I clearly haven’t been paying attention to the detail.

Hunting is popular in Austria, as evidenced by the number of shops dedicated to the sport. Our district even has its own Robin Hood, as we discovered this morning. A pity I wasn’t two minutes earlier and I could have shot him from a better angle, but he disappeared through the front door whilst I was still sprinting across the road.

Ironically, hunting with hounds has been illegal here since 1939, when Austria was annexed by Germany, which had outlawed hunting wild boar with dogs on the instruction of Hermann Göring  …

The European aristocracy used to make quite an occasion of hunting and Carla Maria von Weber composed a splendid opera on the subject, namely, Der Freischütz (The Marksman). There are some glorious pieces in the work, and the one chosen for tonight’s addition to the playlist is Was gleicht wohl auf Erden dem Jägervergnügen? (What excels the pleasure of the chase?)