On Wednesday there was a performance of Tosca, so we had a day off. My friends suggested a trip to Los Alamos and beyond, so that's what we did. The museum there was interesting, and there was a grainy old film featuring Churchill, FDR, Oppenheimer and others, plus the hush-hush nature of the Manhattan Project - to the extent that the birth certificates of children born to the scientists and their wives were registered to a Post Office box in Santa Fe (next day we visited the ex-Post Office, which is now an emporium full of plastic flowers, but there's a plaque there commemorating it). Then we went for a drive through the hills and plains (elks and prairie dogs).

Thursday evening was King Roger (in Polish: Krol Roger, apparently pronounced Król Rohguh or thereabouts) by Szymanowski, who started composing it in 1918 and had it premiered in 1926. It's quite different from the two other Polish operas that I've seen, Stanislaw Moniuszko's 1865 The Haunted Manor (a comedy), and Roman Statkowski's Maria (1904), a drama.

The opera has a sort of mystical feel - a mysterious charismatic shepherd visits the King (we're talking about 12th century Sicily) who first rejects him (as do the people) but, after his wife Roxana shows her interest in his message, he summons him to his room for a private conversation. In Act 2, the shepherd brings his followers, who dance, and he departs with Roxana and Roger's people. Roger throws down the trappings of office and sets off to find them. In Act 3, in the ruins of an ancient theatre, Roxana appears and encourages Roger to listen to the shepherd and engage in his rites. Everyone except Roger's adviser, Edrisi, departs, and when the sun comes up, Roger feels purified.

Altogether, fairly weird, with elements of oratorio (there is a large chorus). The three Acts are supposedly Byzantine, Arabic-Indian and Ancient Greek. The music was pretty powerful, but difficult to describe - Wagnerian fin-de-sičcle, perhaps? It was performed without intervals and lasted for only ninety minutes. The version described above differs noticeably from that in the programme (where Roger dies alone at the end), and a somewhat different text was distributed, though it's not clear whether there had been an error or whether the opera had been reworked.

Friday - back to Albuquerque, flight to Chicago and then Manchester (England), arriving in York at 10.30am (or 3.30am Mountain time) on Saturday. I only recovered fully from the jet-lag late on Monday. Still, it was generally an enjoyable trip, and, after King Roger, I and my three male friends went back to a rented house in Santa Fe where we were entertained by a couple of ladies whom I'd met about 10 years ago in Seattle, plus two of their friends whom I didn't know, for drinks and nibbles and opera chat.