In the face of national lockdown, members of the Italian populace are congregating from the safety of their own residential balconies, to partake in impromptu sing-a-longs. These contemporary operatic pastiches designed to raise the flagging spirits of those enduring enforced hermitism.

Scenes showing, akin to many 19th century opera storylines written by their compatriots Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini, Italy’s lockdown narrative is steeped in ill-health, fatalities and aria.

This reality opus not performed with a beauty of tone which emanated from Caruso, Callas and Pavarotti’s vocal chords. It matters not, though, in my book anyone who ‘street parties’ from the baseline of adversity deserves kudos for that stoicism.


I’m by not means an expert on the music genre at which Verdi and Puccini excelled. However, the vast knowledge voids I possess about these emotive and oft stirring stage productions didn’t diminish my enjoyment of four operas I’ve attended. Theatre with incredibly moving arias, ordinarily underpinned by an inherent sadness at the starkness of character existence.

Even the tale of the clown Pagliacci in Puccini’s Turandot was one of melancholy. The jester racked with grief; shedding tears after losing his ticket to the Italia ’90 FIFA World Cup Final…… Although, as I don’t speak Italian I may’ve slightly misunderstood that storyline.

Some may view my attendance at an operatic performance as pretentious. A showy act of ostentation from a working class northern Englishman, desperately striving to social climb by misleadingly exaggerating my intellectual and financial wherewithal.

An accusation oft laid at my door since openly admitting to aspirations of owning a Faberge Egg; along with a desire to climb Sydney Harbour Bridge dressed in ermine and pearls……. To be honest the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb is optional. As long I get to adorn the fur and gems my bucket list will diminish slightly.

My attendance at that quartet of operas not borne from vanity; moreover an urge to add to my existential experiences and with it broadening my horizons. My seat in the discerning audience providing me with a rare visit to watch entertainment where there’s no requirement to stand every 15 minutes to participate in a Mexican Wave.

If we in the UK are told to self-isolate in our homes, hopefully this West Yorkshire neighbourhood will adopt the Italian stance of coping with this adversity…… Unless of course Cliff Richard moves into the cul-de-sac, in which case I’ll be staying indoors with the doors and windows locked.

Coincidentally, as I write this essay the Italian ambassador to the UK is being interviewed by Andrew Marr on BBC TV. My mum from her habitual need to praise everyone has just observed “Blimey, his English is good!”

“Andrew Marr is English, mum!….. How’s that impressive?” I sarcastically enquired.

“Don’t be facetious!….. I meant the Italian guy he’s interviewing!” she barked.

“Mum, he’s the Italian ambassador to Britain!….. It’s bound to be good!” I felt moved to counter.

“Yes, but so many of these people have English that is practically incomprehensible!” she argued, determined her plaudit would hit the target without interference from my cynicism.

“I know, mum!…… But to be honest if your English is poor, no matter how good your diplomacy skills are, you not gonna get the gig as Italian ambassador to the UK!” I pointed out politely.

“I wonder if he’s been stood on the balcony singing like his fellow countrymen?” Mrs S pondered, seemingly not keen to desist distracting my chronicling.

“I doubt it, mum!….. He’d look a bit of a berk stood on a building’s balcony in central London regaling passerby with Nessun Dorma.” I observed, thinking how great a sight that actually would be.

In opera there’s a saying that the show isn’t over until the fat lady sings……. In my blogging world the writing isn’t over until the thin lady won’t stop bloody distracting me!!……. Catch you tomorrow!