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)