Glorious, Views and Tastes

It’s another beautiful Spring day in Sydney and, once again, I’ve woken up with a bad case of the sniffles. Although I live on the first floor of my apartment block, which means I’m literally in the treetops when I wake up in the morning, the downside of this is regular annual cases of hay fever. I don’t know why but this year the hay fever’s been much worse than in previous years. In fact, I had a day off work this week, hardly able to get out of bed. Thankfully, I’m feeling much better now, though the sniffles remain.

My Tree

Although I haven’t actually made any firm plans for the weekend, aside from a fairly vague idea of wandering down the road for the Surry Hills Festival (which has just firmed up thanks to a mid-blog telephone call from The Other Andrew) that’s probably not a bad thing. In the midst of this terrible hay fever, I’ve had a reasonably busy week with a night of theatre, dinner with friends at a nearby restaurant and another work-related event that took me to the forty-first floor of Governor Macquarie Tower which enjoys spectacular views.

The dinner on Thursday night with my friend Colin (and two of his friends) was definitely a highlight of the week, as we attended one of the “closing down dinners” at RQ Restaurant, a terrific Asian restaurant on Crown Street. Although I can’t remember exactly how many courses we had (it was one of those fixed-priced degustation menus), I do remember it was an evening of great food and conversation. As they have a daughter doing the HSC at the moment, it was a great night out for John and Catherine, who had also been to the night noodle markets the previous night, which Tom from Tom’s Place also enjoyed this week (even if they had run out of red wine!).

Such was not the case last night when Colin and I went to The Ensemble Theatre for the opening night of Noelene Brown in “Glorious”, a play about the American socialite and singer, Florence Foster Jenkins. Vaguely familiar with the true-life story of Jenkins, and as a big fan of Noelene Brown, I was really curious to see this play. As noted in Wikipedia…

From her recordings, it is apparent that Jenkins had little sense of pitch and rhythm and was barely capable of sustaining a note. Her accompanist can be heard making adjustments to compensate for her tempo variations and rhythmic mistakes. Her dubious diction, especially in foreign language songs, is also noteworthy. Nonetheless, she became tremendously popular in her unconventional way. Her audiences apparently loved her for the amusement she provided rather than her musical ability. Critics often described her work in a backhanded way that may have served to pique public curiosity. Despite her patent lack of ability, Jenkins was firmly convinced of her greatness. She compared herself favourably to the renowned sopranos Frieda Hempel and Luisa Tetrazzini, and dismissed the laughter which often came from the audience during her performances as coming from her rivals consumed by “professional jealousy.” She was aware of her critics, however, saying “People may say I can’t sing, but no one can ever say I didn’t sing.”

Ensemble Theatre

The most memorable part of last night’s play, along with some good one-liners, was how Noelene Brown managed to sing the entire night intentionally off-key. There was not one occasion when she actually hit a note, reminding me of my own, often disastrous attempts at singing. Very funny. Although not a hugely memorable play, it was an evening of great fun.

And it was especially fun to see a play set in the bizarre world of 1940s New York social life, as I’ve become a little bit interested in New York this week. Aside from the hay fever I’ve had, the other bug I’ve caught this week is the “travel bug”. I went to my tax agent on Monday (and Friday to sign the paperwork) and if all goes to plan, I should receive a fairly healthy return within a few weeks. With the Australian dollar so strong at the moment, I made a mental promise to myself that if the return was indeed a healthy one, I would set aside some money to travel to three places I’ve always longed to visit: Stockholm, Paris and New York.

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