A Disappointing Night at Home

Samedi 12 Novembre 1904

         This is the first time in days I’ve felt well enough to write in here, and I still feel positively awful. I don’t think I’ve ever been ill like this before, although the doctor is confident it’s nothing more than a cold. I should call for him again tomorrow. Maybe when he sees how ghastly I look he’ll change his tune!

         And, as if  all this wasn’t dreadful enough, Marc has gone out and left me all alone! He said that everyone is going to Don Juan at the Comique tonight and he simply can’t miss it. This is especially cruel considering that Don Juan is my absolute favorite opera, which he is well aware of! He can be so very insensitive. I suppose it’s good that we had that trendy théâtrophone device installed just last week, or else I would have been positively inconsolable. Even in my deathly state I was at least a little excited to try the contraption out, much as I would have preferred the real thing.

         So, I got settled in the sitting room where they’d set the thing up and put in the headphones, still feeling pretty optimistic about the whole endeavor. Was I ever wrong! The moment the overture started I knew that every bit of praise I had heard about the théâtrophone had been a lie. The sound quality was really appallingly bad. I know this piece exceedingly well, and even I could barely recognize it through all the static! I hoped that maybe things would improve after the overture, thinking that perhaps the recording technology was just more suited to the human voice. Wrong again! The voices sounded even worse, with the sopranos reduced to a high-pitched wobble and the basses barely even audible! What a disappointment!

         And I hadn’t realized how endless a three-hour opera is without anyone to talk to. Of course I adore the opera itself, but some of these numbers just go on and on! I was desperate for distraction but, of course, none was to be had!

         It turns out that Don Juan is especially lacking when you take away any visual interest whatsoever. The whole thing was so disappointing. How can I be engrossed in Don Juan’s various seductions if I can’t see them? Some things simply have to be seen as well as heard. This is especially apparent in the final scene, the greatest of the opera, in which Don Juan meets his fiery demise! Which, as it turns out, is quite anti-climactic when you can’t see the flames! How dreadful!

         I can’t believe Marc insisted on buying this useless contraption just because the neighbors had one! Such an egregious waste of money! Although my illness exhausts me, I think I’ll stay up until he returns, if only so I can tell him what a fool he was and show him what a torturous evening I’ve endured while he gallivanted around the Comique!

-               Adele Durand   

A Disappointing Night at Home