I noticed that Channel 4 had an opera by Handel scheduled one Saturday night in 1996. I like opera so I thought I would tape it. This being the nineties taping it literally meant making a physical copy on electromagnetic media. I plonked the tape in the video recorder and rather than wrestle with the elaborate procedure of setting the timer I just made a point of being by the telly when it was due to start and pressing the red button. I started watching it to see what it was like and to make sure the temperamental machine was actually doing its job. Within minutes I was hooked, and in the end sat through the whole three and a half hours. I wasn’t alone – my wife and small kids joined me and were similarly captivated.
We are all obsessed by the Second World War. So when I was invited by my daughter to watch an opera by Kurt Weil written in 1946 I was on the lookout for Nazis. Weil was a communist Jew who had fled to America to escape Hitler who would have taken a dim view of his political avant garde musical work to date.