An Enlightening Evening at the Café Anglais
Samedi 12 Novembre 1904
I’ve just returned from another evening at the Café Anglais. It was the same crowd as usual, with a few new faces. We were there under the pretense of studying for tomorrow’s anatomy examination, but we quickly abandoned our books as we always do. I really need to start studying by myself if I ever expect to make it out of medical school!
Anyways, we ended up so colossally bored (and drunk) that we decided to finally give the new theatrophones a try. None of us have ever even been to the opera, so this just goes to show that we will do anything to avoid studying! We all donated a franc to the cause and passed the strange contraption around for hours. I had never used anything like it and was quite fascinated by the device. Mozart’s Don Juan was playing, not that that meant anything to any of us. We’re not exactly the most cultured bunch.
I’m pretty sure it was in French, but the words were unintelligible, so it was damn near impossible to discern any of the plot, especially without visible clues to help me along. I didn’t really care, though; I was just so taken with the technology. And the music wasn’t what I thought it would be; I actually rather liked it. I had it in my head that opera was all stodgy all the time, but this was actually pretty interesting. Exciting, even. There were so many different kinds of voices, and I had fun trying to tell them apart. Charles and I even made a game of trying to guess the plot based off of the music and we came up with a pretty crazy story. I wish I could remember it, but I’m still pretty fuzzy from all the wine.
Anyways, everyone else abandoned the theatrophone after Act I, having lost interest long before, so I got to keep the headphones for myself. The novelty of listening to an opera miles away hadn’t worn off for me. How crazy is that? I can’t even wrap my head around how it’s possible. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next; who knows, maybe we’ll actually be able to see the action as well in a few years? I didn’t get to focus too much on the opera, though, as my group had become obnoxiously loud. In fact, I didn’t even get to finish it before our whole table was thrown out! It’s too bad because things were getting pretty exciting; the really low voice from the beginning had just returned, so I think something important was about to happen. I guess I’ll never know.
We called it a night at that point, having completely forgotten about tomorrow’s exam in all our merriment. I tried to study for an hour, but all that wine had given me a headache and the words wouldn’t stop spinning. I guess I’ll just have to hope for a miracle tomorrow, or else my father will surely kill me.
- Paul Charpentier