Helen’s parents have birthdays a week apart. Like with my mother (born three days before Christmas) we always tried to avoid giving them presents which covered both days. Sometimes, though, it was necessary because otherwise the cost would have been beyond our budget.
One such occasion was when we gave them tickets to one of the Christmas concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. We took a box (or half of one, as there were only seven of us) and made sure that they had a really good evening out.
The programme was advertised well in advance, so we knew exactly what to expect. In fact, it was almost like a ‘Greatest Hits’ of classical music – though ‘most popular’ might be a better description. There was the obligatory, post-Italia 90 – rendition of ‘Nessun Dorma’. The evening closed on the 1812 Overture, cannons and all. In fact, if you can name it, it was there – a bit of ‘…Hebrew Slaves’, some ‘Pachelbel’s Canon’, a touch of ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’. It was all there.
And then there was this. I have no idea why it grabbed my imagination. I have never been a fan of opera, for one thing. But maybe it was the fact that it was one of the few things on the programme that I hadn’t heard before, or maybe it was the sheer oddity of two tenors singing a duet together (even post-Italia 90!) that gripped me. But I fell in love with this piece then and never lost that love. In fact, I even know who both of the singers in this clip are.