Last night was truly wuthering heights here in Longoio. Emily Bronte would have loved it. After a day which had thrown down torrential rain, swelling rivers and flooding large areas, towards the evening a violent hail storm hit us, and a fierce wind howled throughout the night. It was more a question of raining “tigers and wolves” rather than “cats and dogs”. There were real worries at the paint factory where I taught earlier in the day; the river level rose to begin to cover the access bridge and we were kept on alert in case of evacuation. Truly mad March! Today the country is promised a truce in the weather. Perhaps it’s a blessing from on high since the new pope will be inaugurated. Here are some images from yesterday.
Changing the subject slightly, though not less a stormy one: in a recent British Sunday newspaper headline Sir Anthony Pappano, musical director at the Garden for the last ten years lashed out against the British philistinism of ”inverse snobbery”. In such a class-ridden society as Britain’s this attack is not surprising. Whereas in Italy opera stars and productions are debated in the local bar with the same vehemence as football players and matches in Britain such conversations are restricted to “exclusive” places, and not-to-be mentioned for fear of social reprisal in your typical Essex pub (ironically, Pappano is an Essex boy). This attitude goes back a long time: in Arthur Symon’s introduction to Edward Dowson’s poems and prose, published over a hundred years ago, one reads “In England art has to be protected not only against the world but against one’s self by a kind of affected modesty which is the Englishman’s natural pose, half pride and half self-mistrust.”
I don’t think I could get used again to the attitude regarding the arts still prevalent in so much of Blighty. In Italy distinctions are made between “Mafioso” and “non-Mafioso”, “per bene” and “non per bene”. These are the really valid discernments which society makes here .Go to a performance at Verona’s arena (the opera one, not the football stadium, though both could count equally) or the theatre at Lago Puccini and compare the inclusive social atmosphere breathed there with the rarefied air that blows over the typical Covent Garden audience.