Day 6: coming in handy

I slept in and just watched some television until a late lunch date with Jasper Rees. At yesterday's luncheon at the Groucho Club, he asked me if anyone had, so to speak, tended to me. I said not really and I didn't expect anyone either. He then very kindly offered to take me out to lunch today at a small eatery not far from my hotel. As always, I tried my best to honor Mme. Jenkins by ordering a sandwich, but didn't luck out with potato salad, a dish that is mentioned not once but twice in the movie (once in mine!).

Over lunch, he regaled me with tons of information that he had uncovered not only about Mme. Jenkins, but also Bayfield's legal and financial troubles after her death and facts about the people on the fringe of Jenkins' life such as various other accompanists she employed. He really did not leave one pebble unturned. His book is to be released on May 5, the day before the UK release of the movie. Needless to say, I await the release of this book with baited breath!

Jasper also put in a word to Michael Kuhn's assistant, Gavin Glendinning, to arrange a ticket to a second London screening of the movie sponsored by The Telegraph, followed by a Q and A. A ticket was sent by courier to my hotel.

As we were walking back to the hotel, I realized I had left my umbrella at the eatery (a typical case of out of sight, out of mind), so Jasper suggested he retrieve it and that I continue to the hotel to give my hearing aids an extra charge.

After saying goodbye to Jasper, a person who so kindly spent time with me, I took a taxi to the Curzon Mayfair Theater where the screening was to take place.

The Curzon Mayfair Theater (a picture from the web)

A uniformed attendant kindly opened the taxi door and ushered me into the bar and I sat down and waited for the event to begin.

The medium size wide theater was lit with large flat globes in the ceiling and the curtain showed the same picture as last night's premiere. A local television personality came out and made an introduction and then the movie began, my third viewing in a little over a week. The day's date is April 13 and I fittingly sat in seat C13 which was perfectly close enough for me.

I caught even more details this time - more instances of Bayfield and Jenkins calling each other by their pet nicknames and discovered that there's actually a scene spotlighting potato salad. I also look forward to viewing the movie on my display: I'm told that Simon Helberg makes the most fascinating faces upon hearing Mme. Jenkins' song stylings.

I don't remember much about what was said or asked but I found it so captivating and poetic how Ms. Streep is so well-spoken about her concept of the role and her description of Mme. Jenkins' voice and command of what singing ability she had. She also remarked that, at the age of 14, she studied briefly with Viennese soprano Estelle Liebling, herself a pupil of one of the great vocal pedagogues, Mathilde Marchesi.

Liebling sang 4 performances at the Met at the turn of the century in as many roles: Marguerite de Valois in Les Huguenots (with Edouard de Reszke), Musetta (with Enrico Caruso), a Parsifal Flower Maiden (with Zinka Milanov's teacher, Milka Ternina as Kundry) and Second Spirit in Die Zauberflöthe.

Estelle Liebling, ca. 1902

Simon Helberg's speaking voice sounds more like that of the real Cosme McMoon than the vocal affect he uses in the movie. Two uniformed doormen at the theater, one of which recognized me from the premiere the night before(!) very kindly guided me across the street and I returned while having a lovely conversation with the driver. He told me that London taxi drivers are required to take a four-year course to qualify for the job.

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