Thanks to a last minute spare ticket provided by lovely Dame Kozlika, I went yesterday to a production of Lohengrin, at Opéra Bastille (the ugly 80’s monsterchild one of the two). I figured I may as well post a quick personal review – I’m told this is what this whole blog thing is about: empowering the People, all that… So here goes…

The Story

I’ll let you peruse the Wikipedia entry for a complete synopsis, but story goes a bit like:

  • Beautiful Damsel in Distress is saved in extremis by Handsome Stranger from Unknown Origin, who washes her honor by pounding on Manipulated Semi-Vilain Consigliere.
  • Beautiful Damsel in Distress offers own hand to Handsome Stranger from Unknown Origin, who gladly accepts it with proviso that she shan’t ever ask for his actual name or try to uncover his Unknown Origin.
  • Evil Manipulating Witch manipulates.
  • Naive Beautiful Damsel in Distress is manipulated.
  • Beautiful Damsel in Distress lasts all of 24 hours before asking the forbidden question: Handsome Stranger no longer from Unknown Origin, turns out to be none other than, theretofore unmentioned, opera’s titular character.
  • Swan this, swan that, swans are everywhere.
  • Handsome Stranger Better Known as Lohengrin leaves, pissed off. Swan becomes a prince. People rejoice, broken love mourns, evil pouts.
  • The End.

    [rough outline]

    Lohengrin was one of the few remaining major Wagnerian works I had not seen. Which must now bring my compounded Wagner experience to a few trillion hours. That is, like every other of his other opera, this one is long, very long. Unlike the Nibelungen tetralogy, though, it isn’t particularly fast-paced.

    I must confess to a couple yawns during the first act, while second and third act peaked up a bit, both story-wise and musically.

Names and situations have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent (me). For clarity purposes, some bits that may have been merely thought at the time, are fully spelt out here.

A bit over a year ago, last class of the semester:

Prof. Travoltus: And I wish you all a successful career and might see you again one day, shall you decide to go for a post-grad in AI.

Dave: Does that mean you are involved in that curriculum too? Oh god, no.

Prof. Travoltus: Indeed I am. And don’t worry, I hate your guts too.

Dave: Why, thanks. You are quite a tool yourself.

Prof. Travoltus: You little arrogant piece of self-sufficient shit. Don’t you think I didn’t notice your constant sneering at every other one of my [very unfunny] jokes and comments, all semester long.

Dave: Same to you sir. By the way, 1970 called and it wants its corduroy bellbottoms back. ‘said you could keep the pungent cologne, though.

Because this phase of intense self-absorbed navel-contemplation passing off as thoughtful meditation just isn’t about to end now…

the Good

  • Last week’s blitz-vacations in London were everything I needed (quite possibly a few things I didn’t need too). I unfortunately didn’t have time to travel to the countryside and say hi to the family (hi auntie, sorry I didn’t make it), but I got to catch up with many longtime-not-seen friends, met a few cool new people etc.
  • This week, funding was approved on a research internship I had a applied for, back in February. As a result, I will be spending the Summer in Tokyo, perfecting world domination plans and my army of killer robots at the NII. That is, if I don’t decide to drop out and retreat to a Zen monastery instead. And it is far from excluded at this point.
  • I’m “brilliant”. More to the point: I am no longer the only person in the world to publicly hold that unflinching opinion of myself (see below).

the Bad

  • Being “brilliant”, I am therefore “way too smart to be wasting time on such trivial matters as those affecting my mood and the quality of my work these days”. Sayeth a certain advisor of mine.
  • “Fuck you”, or a somewhat equally disparaging and hardly more articulate variation on the term, may have been my reply to said advisor and coincidentally depositary of a good share of my academic future.
  • Despite today being the first day of final exams week (more like the French equivalent of post-grad quals, actually), I have yet to open a single revision book or prepare for any of it. The cause may lie in aforementioned trivial matters of the heart or, more likely, in the sudden realization that I might be heading the way of that very advisor’s somewhat pathetic, if highly regarded in academic circles, life and career.

the Ugly

  • In fact, for reasons I can’t fully fathom (although there sure are a couple leads to follow), I seem to have caught the academic-self-doubt bug at the most unbecoming time. I honestly don’t think I will act on it, but the fact I can’t bring myself to even find interest, let alone try and revise for those rather important exams, seems a pretty efficient passive-aggressive way to get there nonetheless.
  • Irony of ironies, I think I may have done pretty well today in spite of my utter lack of preparation, which still leaves the question open for the remaining 4 exams I am to take (not to mention, yearly lab project, due next week).

I suppose I still have ten hours (sleep notwithstanding) to acquire a motivation, snort 10g of crushed Red Bull powder and catch up on two weeks worth of revisions.

Will I ? Fuck if I know. Suspense is killing me.

Have you ever noticed how, sometime, you feel so great about life that the most catastrophic news barely manage to scratch past your happiness before slipping away unnoticed…

But then, when things have come crashing down and you feel utterly miserable about everything, inside or outside, you cannot bring yourself to care, let alone rejoice, about the sort of good news you’d been waiting with baited breath for months until then.

All that in an endlessly repeating sequence, it seems.

I think we need a name for that strangely cyclical phenomenon…