Music: Pills, Pains

A traditional side show of London's Season—the weeks of social harvest between the opening of the Royal Academy in May and the first week of August—is opera at elderly, fuddy-duddy Covent Garden. Last winter, Londoners talked of letting Covent Garden sit out this Season. Some reasons: some backers objected to German and Italian singers, Wagnerian operas; others were alarmed about wars and rumors of wars. To the rescue of Covent Garden leaped gruff, goateed Sir Thomas Beecham, who has spent uncounted sums from his pill income ("Worth a Guinea a Box") to give England good music, like it or not.

At that...

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