Well, it was all very interesting and mostly new to me. The nearest I'd ever previously been to New Mexico (leaving aside Dallas Fort Worth airport) was Memphis and New Orleans. A day in Albuquerque wasn't very interesting, but once my friends arrived and we settled in at the Old Santa Fe Inn everything took a turn for the better, starting with a nice dinner at La Casa Sena. Next day (Monday) some orientation and sightseeing followed by an early dinner and then the opera house (very impressive) and Strauss's Arabella.

This opera is pretty familiar - I've seen it three or four times and have a recording. Erin Wall was absolutely perfect in the title-role. Mark Delavan started off as a rather woolly Mandryka but improved as things went on and there were strong performances by Heidi Stober (Zdenka, dressed in a suit but, unusually, with no long hair to let down in the last act to prove that she was really a girl), Zach Borichevsky as a strong Matteo rather than the usual wimp and a very good Adelaide from Victoria Livengood. Sir Andrew Davis's conducting was just right (he could probably do it with his eyes shut).

I'll get on to the two kings this afternoon (after I've cashed in my surplus dollars).