The Jaguar XKR-S: Opera From My Couch

I am not much of a car enthusiast. I ride a Ducati Monster 696+, and have not bothered to purchase a car for the three months of winter when I cannot ride. While the TTC subway is horrendous, I imagine that car payments would prove to be far, far worse. Regardless, I was called upon by the senior editor of a Toronto magazine to attend the 2012 Toronto Auto Show to shoot the Jaguar XKR-S. With my head cold, and returning from a visit to Hamilton where V. took care of my poor soul, I hit the city and paid my $20 to enter what has to be the biggest product show I have ever witnessed. Fast cars, faster girls. and lots of dads dragging their children through the arena to oogle both.

Can I stress the impossibility of shooting a luxury car for a luxury magazine at a car show? Where might I begin? The fingerprints? The cheap halogen lights? The people rubbing their bodies all over the vehicles? Nope, it would be the guys with their cellphones trying to take professional images while pushing me over that killed. Thirty minutes and I had the spins from crouching too long, but I did convince one of the head car girls to let me shoot a few interior photographs before I left. Overall…I was not happy with my actual photography [how could I be under those impossible conditions], but I managed to create great quality composites from 5-7 exposures in Photoshop. I have posted two full body shots with one half retouched and the other as the scene actually was. All I can say is that my hours retouching film negatives make pretty much anything possible. I would post the full composites, but the editor might still want to pick them up for an upcoming article on this beautiful $150,000, 550 HP car.

For the rest of the week, not being able to get off the couch, due to this head cold, left me with only a few options: eat, sleep, read or watch films. I have a thing about television – I do not watch it. Television rots our minds with useless bubblegum ideas and laugh tracks. Given that eating is not easy, that I have slept for the good part of three days, and that my chosen novel [Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe] is depressing the hell out of me, I decided to try out the Metropolitan Opera’s online offer to try out their monthly subscription for 7 days free.

While you need a credit card, and you will be charged $14.99 if you forget to cancel before the seven days are up, the opportunity to watch endless opera for seven days seemed like a dream come true…to a degree. I love learning. Learning and experiencing the great things our world has to offer is what I value more than money or fame. While V. and I were lucky enough to enjoy the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Tosca a few weeks ago, the opera is an expensive endeavour. Tickets tend to run between $100-$600 for in demand performances, and you need to wait years for specific performances to arrive.

Personally, I adore the idea of Wagner’s Ring Cycle; four days of opera performances about the Norse gods. Unfortunately, I have tried to listen to the Met’s performance on cd, and I just could not follow for long enough to gain any understanding from it. The visual component is intrinsic to understanding the performance. Alas, I cannot afford the $2000 for this year’s cycle performance in New York, but with the online player I was able to finally sit through the entire performance of Das Rheingold from the late 1980s. Perhaps not the most active evening, but for those three hours I was glued to the screen as my Peachtree Audio nova amplifier converted the digital signal through USB to my analogue speakers via a built-in Digital Audio Converter. It was brilliant and crisp.

Earlier in the day I was enthralled with Bizet’s Carmen performed by  Elīna Garanča. I felt like my time was being well-spent, and finally recognizing where certain piece I knew came from made the universe just a smidge better. So if you end up sick on your couch, and need a break from sleeping the illness away, then I can recommend trying the opera service. While I will cancel the subscription later in the week, it is something I will definitely renew when I have time again to spend a whole month watching operas that I could never experience otherwise. Until then…Gotterdammerung might get watched Monday night, if time allows.


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