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Necessary kit for a night of summer opera
A familiar, famous face strolling with his son beside the lake at Mark Getty’s idyllic Wormsley estate in the supper interval at Garsington Opera’s Don Giovanni on Monday paused to pass the time of day with us as we picnicked.
An observation on sartorial matters was offered by a man with ‘form’ in this area (memorably on the subject of underpants). “I can’t understand,” he said, “why we are all expected to dress up in black tie to enjoy opera.”
The remark was paralleled the next day by a letter in The Times. Steve Chambers argued: “Men are often forced by convention . . . to adopt uncomfortable attire, usually in the form of a piece of cloth tied around the neck, an overjacket of some description and, in the case of [Royal Ascot], the addition of a waistcoat and a top hat in the middle of summer.”
Ah, but are speaking, Mr Chambers, of the English summer. A top hat and waistcoat would have been welcomed by almost every man in Garsington’s audience on Monday — though the former would doubtless have impeded others’ view of an excellent production.
On this bitterly cold night for June — our car’s thermometer recorded a temperature of 6C as we drove off — any additional clothing would have been welcome indeed.
The next night, for Vivaldi’s L’Olimpiade, I was equipped — in addition to my normal evening wear — with a thick vest, a woolly jumper, my heaviest overcoat and a rug for protection of the lower body.
Oh, and an umbrella. We all had one of those to shield us against a deluge which at one point became almost biblical. Happily Wormsley’s wonderful opera pavilion (designer Robin Snell) is equipped (see above) with railings and wires ideal for the storage of these.