Torre Abbey and the Opera…27.01.18

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We had tickets for the live opera from the Met at Vue cinema Torbay, so we decided to pick up where we had left off on our last visit to Torre Abbey which is 10 minutes away from the cinema. After a cup of tea in the pleasant cafe on arrival we ventured in to look at the art (we had concentrated on the history of the house last time). We were told that we were past the last entry time of 4 ‘o’ clock (by a minute!!) and couldn’t go in. A bit of resistance on our part soon sorted that out, and our exploration began. We soon found that not only was there an incredible collection of paintings, but also great areas to sit as well…with books to read and art to look at…all that was missing was a fire.

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In the first room was the extremely large and impressive painting ‘Gold of The Earth’ by Maud Hogarth Clay about whom I can find out nothing on-line. Having said that, the notes by the side of each painting were good and very informative.

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There were also local paintings of Torbay and Dartmoor….this one notes that the castle on the hill was demolished n the 1960’s (no doubt to build a car park). The terraces are reminiscent of Bath in their elegance.

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And here Brixham harbour…which we could see across the bay….

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What was really good about the displays was that they were backed up by background objects to do with the artists…here for instance some beautiful little notebooks showing preparation for some of the paintings, as well as letters etc…….

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I liked very much this painting of three friends (sisters?) on horseback on Dartmoor…

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and it was great to discover a special room given over to Burne-Jones, with studies for some of his amazing glasswork…

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and a couple of fine windows…

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We were also fascinated by some typical Victorian ‘moral’ paintings, having watched Jeremy Paxman discussing these on TV some days before…

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and there were more ‘jolly’ displays……

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But we only saw and inspected a fraction of what was available in a seemingly endless run of rooms. The only thing difficult to find was the toilets! We kept being waylaid as well by bits to do with the history of the house and family. Torre Abbey must really be one of the most interesting and underrated museums in the country. A great find.

Our main event was the Met’s production of  ‘Tosca’    The New York Times said….

The stakes could not have been higher. The chaos could not have been wilder. It’s fair to say that no production in the Metropolitan Opera’s history has been more vexed than the new staging of Puccini’s “Tosca” that opened on New Year’s Eve.

First, months ago, its star tenor pulled out. Then its star soprano. Then her husband, who was slated to conduct.

His replacement, James Levine, a fixture at the company for four decades, was suspended from the Met last month over accusations of sexual misconduct. And a few weeks ago, for good measure, the opera’s villain canceled too.

It speaks to the Met’s resourcefulness that it was able to field such an impressive premiere cast — the rising stars Sonya Yoncheva and Vittorio Grigolo and the stalwart Zeljko Lucic — on such relatively short notice.’

Of course we knew none of this and, as before, sat in genuine awe at the power of the performance. It was truly magnificent in every respect. The only jarring note was that after spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on the production, quite often the floor boards creaked and the performers could do nothing. How crass! Surely someone should have known about this (and done something about it!). I have written to the Met….let’s see if I get a reply……

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