20 April 2011

Simon Oliver writes: What a couple of days it's been!

Two really charged performances in a very short space of time. I am always amazed at the energy and emotion the Philharmonia create on stage during a concert and Tuesday night's Sixth Symphony was no exception!

I want to share this with you: Six years ago, a skinny and very lost cat turned up on my doorstep. I opened my front door to him; he looked at me, looked at the open doorway, and walked into my life. He became my pal for six years. Over the last few months, after first becoming blind, he became ill. I knew it was nearly his time, so just before I left for work on Sunday morning, I carried him to his favourite spot under a tree in my garden. After rehearsing Mahler's Second Symphony, I came back home to find he had passed away. He had reached a grand old age of 19! His photo on here is my small tribute to an amazing cat called Pip!

So, today was a day off and I went to meet a friend in Covent Garden for a drink. He works at the Royal Opera House and this, along with the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, happens to be the theatre where Mahler conducted on his only trip to London in 1892. There was to be a short season of German opera at Covent Garden during June and July of that year. It was a Wagner Ring cycle with one performance of each opera on four consecutive Wednesdays, plus a performance of Tristan und Isolde and Fidelio. Phew, that's a lot of opera!

During his time in London, Mahler stayed at two addresses that sadly no longer exist as the area is now the campus for University College. These were 69 Torrington Square and 22 Alfred Place.

I had a great evening catching up with my friend. As it drew to a close, I wondered around Covent Garden and thought of Mahler doing just the same back in 1892. I also thought of Pip.