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Fifteenth Evening

Another Vexation of Kleiner the Elder’s

Beethoven’s Fidelio is being performed.

Not a word is spoken in the orchestra. The eyes of all true artists are aglow, those of ordinary musicians remain open, those of blockheads are shit from time to time. Tamberlik* has been engaged by our manager for a few performances and sings Florestan. He electrifies the house with his prison song. The pistol quartet drives the audience wild with enthusiasm.

After the grand finale, Kleiner the Elder exclaims: “That music sets your insides on fire. I feel as if I’d swallowed fifteen glasses of brandy. I’m going to the cage and get a—”

“There aren’t any left,” breaks in Dimsky; “I just saw Tamberlik getting the last one; he’s certainly earned it.”

Kleiner goes off muttering.

* Enrico Tamberlik (1820-89), a famous Italian tenor

—from Evenings With The Orchestra by Hector Berlioz, translated, with an introduction and notes, by Jacques Barzun (Alfred A. Knopf, 1956)

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