A trip to Versailles is naturally an obligatory excusrsion for tourists to Paris. I was there yesterday for the first time since 1973 when I was at the opening of the restored theatre - the legendary production by Strehler of Le nozze di Figaro, conducted by Solti, including Freni, Bacquier, van dam, Janowitz, and the extremely youthful Frederica von Stade in her European debut as Cherubino. It was some event - a wonderful party with the President (Pompidou), his ceremonial guard and a superlative buffet to add to the performance which has gone down in history.
Every Mozartian of any importance, and many others besides, appeared in the many revivals of this production over more than thirty years. I was pretty thrilled to have been at its opening night!
I was first in Versailles as a teenager in the 1950s when it was a calm and delightful place as I remember. The crowds yesterday were horrendous - but some quiet spots could be found, including (above) this delightful garden in the park. And my friends at the Chicago Board of Trade would be particularly delighted by the ravishing sculpture of Ceres - Roman goddess of Agriculture and Grain. Ceres sits atop the Board of Trade Building, and the excellent watering hole, the Ceres Cafe, just inside the building on the ground floor, is an old friend indeed for all former Chicagoans.
I am now back in London for the day before leaving tomorrow morning for a family holiday in Norfolk. There may be occasional dispatches from that beautiful part of England in the coming days.