«Всё уж готово, час ожидания наступает,» as Figaro reflects in the Russian translation I had to get my head around: “Everything’s ready, the hour of expectancy steps on,” which I’ve always thought is a wonderful way of putting it – and it’s pretty much where I am now.
Figaro was lurking in the pinewoods, with an air of foreboding, expecting his wife to be unfaithful to him before his eyes; I am sitting in the FILO, with a pint of Crofters, expecting Sam to serve me another at any moment. No, it’s not a comparison with Figaro’s situation that brings these words into my mind and makes them seem so appropriate, but rather remembering the first time I encountered them.
That was 25 years ago, in Krasnoyarsk – a town on the River Yenisei, the dividing line between East and West Siberia – where I had just got a job at Государственный Театр Оперы и Балета (the Russian State Opera and Ballet Theatre), and Свадьба Фигаро (The Marriage of Figaro) was about to be my first performance. That trip – and particularly that performance – was the other great adventure of my life which I could compare with the one I am about to step into tomorrow.
But the feeling is different. Then I was a young(ish) man, and I was hacking my way through the virgin forest of a young man’s dreams, making a new life for myself in Russia. Now it is like stepping up to a chalice which is offered me, and accepting whatever wine it contains: it’s an act of receiving, an act of release.
I wonder whether, when this life’s path is trod, I shall have the courage to step up to that chalice of greater stillness and mystery, and whisper the same parting words: Всё уж готово, час ожидания наступает.