Reading Forster’s Where Angels Fear to Tread this afternoon, I’m reminded of those ancient days of yore when the active experience of going to the opera offered reprieve from certain realities (such as the everyday stress of rescuing a baby from obvious Italian amorality). Forster’s cleverly mocking prose kills, as ever, in lines like “tilting against the powers of evil,” granting another variety of satisfying escape from the reality of my living room desk. Here are Caroline Abbott and Harriet heading into the theatre:
“So this strenuous day of resolutions, plans, alarms, battles, victories, defeats, truces, ended at the opera. Miss Abbott and Harriet were both a little shamefaced. They thought of their friends at Sawston, who were supposing them to be now tilting against the powers of evil. What would Mrs. Herriton, or Irma, or the curates at the Back Kitchen say if they could see the rescue party at a place of amusement on the very first day of its mission?”
Their “place of amusement” is watching Lucia go mad in Donizetti’s opera, but you do you girl.