I found - and this really freaked me - a copy of Alastair Mackintosh's book on the French Symbolists. One of my dead exes had a book by another of my dead exes - logical of course even if they hadn't known each other - but kind of a way for destiny to blow a raspberry at me nonetheless.
And a copy of Nights at the Circus inscribed by me, not to Abi, but to Ashleigh (the amour fou of my mid-30s for those who are new readers or don't keep score). I just do not know how that was there - because, not the obvious...
So, thanks to Oliver and Nancy, off to Peter Grimes as the first of many 60th birthday presents. I'd never loaved that opera before - part of the reason was that ENO did it with a huge chorus, so that the angry townsfolk are a genuinely scary part of the work, and at least as dangerous as the sea which dominates the orchestral writing. It's a portrait of the British in one of their periodic vicious fits of morality - Grimes is an anti-hero who is morally responsible for the deaths of his apprentices, but he is not a deliberate killer. People know that at some level and decide not to care - partly because of Miss Smedley, the nearest thing the opera has to a villain - she is being Miss Marple out of sheer ego.
It's the most full-bloodedly operatic of Britten's operas, partly because it is effectively his first - music theatre pieces before it, that aren't operas, not even Paul Bunyan - and it wears its influences productively - and they range from Puccini's Turandot to Berg's Wozzek via Weill's Rise and Fall of the city of Mahagonny while also being totally and recognizably Britten in every note.
Also, I thought I knew the score quite well - but there were bits like the female quartet in the second act that I had never really listened to in quite that intent a way before, and which broke my heart.
It was sung in English - well, obviously, given it is - but as usual who knew?