Friday, July 5, 2019

Small talk: food, music and anniversaries.

Dear friends, family and neighbours, 

Some of my exploits of the last week will be of no interest, such as my routine dental visit which ended up with my first filling in 50 years!  Likewise, few of you would be interested in my attendance at Friday prayers as a secular visitor, now almost part of the furniture (except there isn’t any in a mosque!).  

Of wider interest: Graham Murphy’s new Madam Butterfly will be a talking point for some time to come.  The gala performances were both this weekend (there are two casts for 23 performances over 3 weeks!).  This sets Butterfly as a bondage prostitute and has as many ‘coups-de-theatre’ as you could imagine, many by means of video plasma strips around the stage.  The three principals had enormous voices and they took all the hard options … yet later that night we wondered if it was amplified … something which changes the playing field and breaks a major rule of the opera theatre.  We know that the orchestra IS amplified or otherwise “enhanced”.  The opera supremo insisted to me that there was absolutely no amplification of the voices.  

I have finally bought a mobile phone at last so now I exist!  But for now I will only use it while in transit and for emergencies so continue to use my current email and landlines please. 

I made another batch of cumquat marmalade (happy to share).  And I had a Lebanese ‘master-class’ up-date on making babaganouche.  Choosing your egg plant (big but not too big).  Waiting until it is ‘ripe’ and ready for the flames (starting to soften with one or two ‘marks’ appearing).  Using the clear juice that oozes out of the cooked vegetable (I was discarding it!).  Adding plenty of lemon juice (and zest if you have the energy and the grater).  Don’t over-do the garlic and make sure it is fully crushed.  Salt to taste.  Add only a modest amount of tachini (and I cheat by adding a few drops of toasted sesame oil as well). 

Our friend, painter and handyman Barry Barakat died suddenly at 59 while walking the dog … leaving his family and us reeling for the loss.  The nuns at St Mary’s have put on some sort of tribute.  Very sad. 

I attended Bob Borowsky’s 80th birthday 10 years ago and as he is still singing I was asked to speak at his 90th celebration at Central Synagogue where I have only attended once in a year (after being a regular for a decade).  It was a warm welcome back for me, albeit the sceptical and secular outsider, and a very sincere tribute to Bob who trained at the Rome opera in the 1950s and has sung all around the world including the Sydney Opera House (in Manon Lescaut and La Traviata).  Bob’s recordings are on YouTube: for one.  He sings solos each Shabbat which is remarkable and his voice is very well preserved.  It was also the 47th anniversary of the chief cantor Shimon Farkas whose glorious tenor voice compliments Bob’s baritone with the male choir (supplemented for the occasion by the boy’s alto choir).  True vocal bliss … but not for the passing yokel I’m afraid. 

We heard the sad news that Kylie Kwong has finally closed her long running Billy Kwong restaurant this weekend. 

More anon.  Happy daze to all.  Andrew B ..