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Seven Crystal Balls: Bianca fallen on hard times?

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Johnny O
Member
#1 · Posted: 1 Aug 2013 03:09
Spun off from this thread.

The publication order did create some interesting continuity challenges, particularly concerning Castafiore.
I've always thought that the more interesting challenge about her in 'Crystal Balls' is that in every other book when she appears, the diva is regarded as one of the foremost operatic performers of her age (cough!).
Yet in this story, she's appearing fairly early on the bill of a pretty low grade variety show, performing amongst a conjuror, a magician and a fakir.
Maybe she'd fallen on hard times?
jock123
Moderator
#2 · Posted: 1 Aug 2013 08:59 · Edited by: jock123
I don't think it's meant to be a low grade show by any means, think of it more in the vein of The Royal Varity Performance, which has attracted huge names from all branches of the arts from all over the world for many decades...
The venue is based on the prestigious Le Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, so that puts it right up there in terms of location; it's the "big time" theatre in the centre of the city, so presumably like playing The London Palladium it could be seen as the place where the well-to-do go to be entertained by the top performers.
We may see the idea of a variety show as being down-market today, but that wasn't always the case, and many were spectaculars of an opulence of which TV today could only dream. Add to this that not only were you getting a top opera diva, but a real mind-reader...!
Many shows were what we might now think of as a mixed bag, but the inclusion of big-name "legitimate" stars (opera singers, concert pianists, violinists, classical actors and ballet dancers) was thought to be an improving element to balance the presence of slap-stick comedians and dancing dogs.
It can't have hurt that the money was good (I've read about the amounts that acts like Houdini, Thurston, Carter the Great, The Marx Brothers, George Formby (Snr and Jr) and Bob Hope were making in the Twenties, Thirties and even Forties, and it's jaw dropping, even today!), and that in a pre-TV world it got your face in front of a lot of people for not too much commitment of time, drumming up publicity for whatever other project you wished to promote.
Richard1631978
Member
#3 · Posted: 1 Aug 2013 19:51
This did cross my mind, considering she was a star in her own right in King Ottokar's Sceptre.

Maybe she lost a lot of reputation & money during WWII, & had to do any performances she was offered to pay the bills?
jock123
Moderator
#4 · Posted: 1 Aug 2013 20:12
Richard1631978:
had to do any performances she was offered to pay the bills?

I still think that that is missing the point that the show is, in fact, a big deal, not something put on in a flea-pit for pennies...
Johnny O
Member
#5 · Posted: 2 Aug 2013 05:30
Marlinspike is hardly a buzzing metropolis. A theatre in the town is not exactly Broadway or the West End. It's a fairly unremarkable bill and Castafiore isn't even the star attraction. She's on third (or is it fourth, I can't remember precisely) after a knife thrower. Even if we assume Tintin & Haddock have travelled into a major city from Marlinspike to watch the show, it's still fairly humble billing for such a grand star who's previous appearance was singing at a private audience for a King!

Another oddity about her performance is that Haddock doesn't mention to Tintin that she's part of the show before taking him to see the conjuror.
mct16
Member
#6 · Posted: 2 Aug 2013 15:09
Johnny O:
Another oddity about her performance is that Haddock doesn't mention to Tintin that she's part of the show before taking him to see the conjuror.

Haddock may not have been aware of it. Tintin could have told him about his past adventures without going into details. His encounters with Castafiore in her car and at the palace are rather secondary compared to the more serious issues of "Ottokar's Sceptre".
Johnny O
Member
#7 · Posted: 2 Aug 2013 20:27
This thread was originally part of the Seven Crystal Balls discussion, where there was chatter about the lack of continuity from this scene.

It's not confusing taken in correct chronology, but it is in view of the fact that Tintin and Haddock discuss meeting her in Syldavia, Borduria and the Red Sea.

Haddock and not met her before indeed, but since Hergé had updated the text to indicate that they were old 'aquaintances', it's strange that Haddock made no mention to Tintin that she was on the bill.

It's also rather clumsy that as Tintin is scanning the bill he doesn't spot her name, reading up to the act that precedes her on stage.
Mikael Uhlin
Member
#8 · Posted: 3 Aug 2013 07:44 · Edited by: Mikael Uhlin
Johnny O:
it's strange that Haddock made no mention to Tintin that she was on the bill.

In the original version Tintin only mentions meeting Castafiore in Syldavia. I don't think it was Hergé who updated the text but rather the English translator(s), probably to accommodate the fact that later albums already had been released when Seven Crystal Balls was issued in English.

Richard1631978:
Maybe she lost a lot of reputation & money during WWII, & had to do any performances she was offered to pay the bills?

Actually, this part of the story was first published in 1943 when Belgium was occupied by nazi-Germany, so it was during the war which can explain why Castafiore was performing in this kind of show.
rodney
Member
#9 · Posted: 5 Aug 2013 00:38 · Edited by: Moderator
jock123:
The venue is based on the prestigious Le Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels.

Just on this point (apologies for slightly going off topic!)
I've always wondered what price the Captain and Tintin paid for their seats.
By looking at the picture it's certainly the best seats in the house by my estimate.
Any idea on what the going rate would have been for seats like these?
Furienna
Member
#10 · Posted: 11 Nov 2014 10:16
I agree with Jock123 that the show was in Brussels, that is the country's capital city. So while it might seem low-grade compared to how famous Bianca was later, I guess it wasn't that bad. And yeah, maybe those other performers also were big names within their fields.

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