Friday, June 21, 2013
Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
The Russian couple seem good natured and unassuming or as unassuming as a couple with an eighty bedroom chateau can be. They greet us at the door. He tall, forty something, in a three quarter length black frock coat , red trousers and brown calf length boots. The Calvin Coolidge takes lessons from Colonel Sanders look. She a few years younger ( not the child bride of Madame Bay's description ) in a blue silk evening gown covered in ruffs. Around her midriff a huge red white and blue diamond encrusted bow. Marie Antoinette meets Sverdlovsk by way of Hollywood. He shakes our hand. Seems we both know the same men in dark suits in Moscow. She is holding the front of her gown firmly with both hands. We exchange nods. A bewigged footman offers us a glass of champagne.
The concert in what was the chapel and is now the 'auditorium '. An enormous and largely empty space. Black and white marbled floors, bleached oak panelling, a panoply of stern looking stained glass saints glaring down from the windows. Even though it's broad daylight the chapel has been lit by lanterns. Clustered together in the middle of the nave sixty or so red felt , high backed, chairs. From the Maserati's and Ferrari's in the car park we guess we're among the few non-Russians. Pergolesi's Stabat Mater. Sung very, very slowly. The two , clearly competitive, lead soprano's milking the high notes. Angus whispers to 'the font' that if it was sung any more slowly time would stand still. He's told to behave. We all ignore the Russian owner of a football club who's forgotten to turn off his mobile phone .
An hour with Bob and Sophie in the garden on our return. Madame Bay will be here later this morning to learn all about our evening.