Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Easter Prize puzzle 25,909 / Araucaria

Posted by Eileen on April 6th, 2013

Eileen.

I’m well into my fifth year of blogging and I’ve never before landed an Araucaria Bank Holiday Prize puzzle, and so it was with a mixture of excitement and trepidation that I looked forward to this one. At first sight, it appeared [even] more fiendish than his habitual double grids, since the instructions stated, ‘Two operatic bicentenaries occur this year: one composer and solutions relating to him go into grid A; solutions relating to the other (who is not named) go into grid B. Clues for both grids have been run together and either part may belong to either grid.’  Usually, as I recall, the clues have run in order of their appearance in the grid – and so I foresaw trouble ahead.

A quick read through of the clues identified the two composers as Giuseppe Verdi [or, as Alexander Armstrong said on ‘Pointless’ this week, following Victor Borge, ‘Joe Green to you’] and Richard Wagner, whose bicentenaries I realised I was aware of. [One of my treasured possessions, as a student, was a recording of the same brilliant Victor Borge playing ‘Happy Birthday’ in the style of various composers [including Wagner, after about four minutes] which you can hear here. This is sheer self-indulgence, or blogger’s licence – you don’t have to listen!]

That still left the question of which grid was which. There was a nice lead-in to VERDI in 10ac [but I loved the misdirection of ‘clever DICK’ composer!] and then the two 16 acrosses gave me a good start and knowing where to put the straightforward 21 acrosses was a big help.

I’m not going to say this was by any means a walkover but I think it’s true to say that I was at no point absolutely stuck or in despair. It seemed to unravel at a fairly satisfying rate. I usually try to solve and blog [as far as possible!] in one go but I had visitors over the weekend. My intention was to leave it until they had gone home on Sunday but the prospect of an Araucaria Prize is too hard to resist and so I nibbled away at it at every available moment. I’m sure that helped, as often even a short break can cause some pennies to drop.

I know this theme won’t have suited everybody. I’m not an opera-goer myself but I was familiar with most of the references and I do admire the great tunes, so it was not just a case of googling my way through it. I really enjoyed the solve – and hope [most of] you did, too. Huge thanks, as ever, to Araucaria, for another great tour de force.

[I have separated the two parts of each clue and definitions are underlined.]

Grid A: VERDI

Across

9 Memorial call before game to Geordieland    singer found by king of Italy
TROVATORE
sneaky move by Araucaria: you need to know [or guess] that TROVATO is Italian for ‘found’ and RE is Italian for ‘king’, as well as that TROVATORE is Italian for ‘singer’ [troubador]: ‘Il Trovatore’, Verdi opera

10 A party member’s first defence    from clever dick’s composer
VERDI
cleverly hidden in cleVER DIck

11 Journey conducted and repeated twice,    half by Shakespearean lady’s country
BOLIVIA
B [half B{y}] + OLIVIA [Shakespearean lady from ‘Twelfth Night’]

12 Breathe when drunk into drink    that can be drunk with acknowledgement by Blake when drunk
HERB TEA
anagram [when drunk] of BREATHE

13 Girl with sign for sodium    flower preceding 4(B) in opera
LEONA
LEO [zodiac sign] + NA [sodium]

14 Old acorns used by infante    agreeing at all points with sound of pig holding note
DON CARLOS
anagram [used] of OLD ACORNS: Don Carlos [Verdi opera] was Infante of Spain

16 No cabs are coming out for top Genoese    boy or girl for service in meal — boy for December
SIMON BOCCANEGRA
anagram [out] of NO CABS ARE COMING: Simon Boccanegra [Verdi opera] was the first Doge of Genoa

19 Knight of the 17(B) to see female smile,    male in quarrel, wholly to exclude the Scots?
ROMAN WALL
MAN [male] in ROW [quarrel] + ALL [wholly]: reference to Hadrian’s Wall [or the later Antonine Wall], built to keep out the Scots [or, rather, the Picts]

21 Flying man’s wife    or boss sent back by hunter
ORION
OR + reversal of NO I [number one – boss]

22 Animals in 15(B)    23 down(A) in 14 across(A) — electronics company without outsize note
THIBAUT
T[os]HIBA [electronics company without OS – outsize] + UT [note – the older form of doh, which I learned from crosswords]
Thibaut is a page [23d] in ‘Don Carlos’ [14ac]

23 City to be supplied with real bus    now not having to be paid for?
PRESENT
double definition

24 Suicidal heroine dispatched by a    goddess, friend of consumptive heroine
FLORA
double definition: the Roman goddess of flowers and the friend of Violetta, the consumptive heroine of Verdi opera  ‘La Traviata’

25 Mother of hero, poor Nigel, inside    jester’s outfit, with rings round one from 3(A)
RIGOLETTO
RIG [jester’s outfit] + OO [rings] round LETT [one from Latvia [answer to 3dn[A] for another Verdi opera:  Edit  – ‘jester’ is the definition, which I have now underlined [thanks, PeterO @2]

Down

1 Butler nearly fixed car with oil, with no need to answer    settler’s attempt to raise some resilience
STABILISER
STAB [attempt] + reversal [to raise] of RESILI[ence]

2 Implement production area where 21 down(A), losing heart and confused, then raised    well-known witch’s mate
TOOLROOM
21dn is OTELLO – which, disheartened, is OTLO – and, confused [anagram], gives TOOL + ROOM [reversal – raised] of MOOR [Othello is Shakespeare’s  Moor of Venice and ‘Otello’ is a Verdi opera]

3 Heroine that’s disposed of inside    country where artist and volunteers leave opera
LATVIA
LA T[ra]VIA[ta] [Verdi opera] minus ra [artist] and ta [territorial army – volunteers]

4 Girl taking sign from heroine    left in Wotan’s ring?
NORA
leoNORA [heroine of  ‘Il Trovatore’ minus leo [zodiac sign] – it’s a pity to see leo = sign again, cluing another girl’s name

5 Last light in background for tabloid    performed by force of habit in meal could be a cinch
MECHANICAL
anagram [could be] of A CINCH in MEAL

6 Brünnhilde’s farewell cut short by liturgical piece    smothered by love poet (not English)
OVERLAIN
O [love] + VERLAIN[e] [French poet minus e [English]

7 Savage to blurt out about a    devilish casserole that can be 60% put right
BRUTAL
anagram [out] of BLURT round A

8 Pretend to be a Nibelung    to help a heroine
AIDA
AID A  [help a] – Verdi heroine

14 Fall further behind having broken rod on part of horse,    some coming with pledge to find modus vivendi
DROP ASTERN
anagram of ROD + PASTERN [‘part of the leg of a horse between the fetlock and the top of the hoof’]

15 Male people’s failure to move    house abroad in twice three-penny opera
STAGNATION
STAG [male] + NATION [people]

17 Celebrated authentic holy relic    without loss of life on figurehead in birthplace, perhaps
NON-FATAL
ON + F [first letter – head – of Figure] in NATAL [relating to birth and also a [former] province [place] of South Africa]

18 Toadstool found by orphaned Belgian painter outside home counties    making home as that of badger on heath
GRISETTE
[ma]GRITTE  [Belgian painter] orphaned [minus his ma – lovely!] round SE [home counties]

20 Man’s name in field with island saint,    but one with house abroad
MAISON
French translation needed this time: MAIS ON [but one] = MAISON [house] – this could be my favourite clue

21 Profoundly deaf leaders’ answer topped    books at length getting round Venetian general
OTELLO
OT [the familiar Old Testament books] + ELL [length] + O [round] for the second appearance of the Moor of Venice

22 Knight of the river’s river’s second river    was on top of his distemper
TAFF
FAL’S TAFF [the river’s river] and the second river is the TAFF: the knight is [ Sir John] Falstaff, another Verdi opera

23 Merry Meg taken from book,    one that buzzes loudly for food
PAGE
double definition: Meg Page is one of the Merry Wives of Windsor, with a connection to the previous clue

Grid B: WAGNER

Across

9 Memorial call before game to Geordieland    singer found by king of Italy
HEADSTONE
HEADS [call before game] + TO + NE [Geordieland]

10 A party member’s first defence    from clever dick’s composer
ALIBI
A LIB [liberal – party member] + I [first]

11 Journey conducted and repeated twice,     half by Shakespearean lady’s country
TRIPLED
TRIP [journey] + LED [conducted]

12 Breathe when drunk into drink    that can be drunk with acknowledgement by Blake when drunk
TAKABLE
TA [acknowledgement] + anagram [when drunk] of BLAKE

13 Girl with sign for sodium    flower preceding 4(B) in opera
RHINE
RHINE [flower] precedes GOLD [4[B] in Wagner’s opera ‘Das Rheingold’, the first part of the Ring cycle

14 Old acorns used by infante    agreeing at all points with sound of pig holding note
CONGRUENT
CON [with] GRUNT [sound of pig] round [holding] E [note]

16 No cabs are coming out for top Genoese    boy or girl for service in meal — boy for December
CHRISTMAS SEASON
CHRIS [boy or girl] + MASS [service] in TEA [meal] + SON [boy]

19 Knight of the 17(B) to see female smile,    male in quarrel, wholly to exclude the Scots?
LOHENGRIN
LO [see] + HEN [female] + GRIN [smile] for the knight of the Holy Grail [17B] – a Wagner opera

21 Flying man’s wife    or boss sent back by hunter
DUTCH
double definition, referring to the Cockney ‘dutch’ – wife – and Wagner’s opera, ‘The Flying Dutchman’

22 Animals in 15(B)    23 down(A) in 14 across(A) — electronics company without outsize note
WOLFRAM
WOLF RAM [animals] – WOLFRAM is a character in Tannhauser [15B]

23 City to be supplied with real bus    now not having to be paid for?
BRESLAU
anagram [to be supplied?  – is Araucaria really asking us to use Paul’s device of ‘supply’ as an adverb as a verb? – I wouldn’t put it past him!] – of REAL BUS

24 Suicidal heroine dispatched by a    goddess, friend of consumptive heroine
SENTA
SENT [dispatched] + A – the suicidal heroine in ‘The Flying Dutchman’

25 Mother of hero, poor Nigel, inside    jester’s outfit, with rings round one from 3(A)
SIEGLINDE
anagram [poor] of NIGEL in SIDE [I love this kind of clue!] for the mother of Siegfried, Wagner opera

Down

1 Butler nearly fixed car with oil, with no need to answer    settler’s attempt to raise some resilience
RHETORICAL
RHET[t] [‘Gone with the Wind’ Butler, nearly] + anagram [fixed] of OIL and CAR

2 Implement production area where 21 down(A), losing heart and confused, then raised    well-known witch’s mate
FAMILIAR
double definition

3 Heroine that’s disposed of inside    country where artist and volunteers leave opera
ISOLDE
SOLD [disposed of] in that’s [ie – id est] for the heroine of ‘Tristan und Isolde’, Wagner opera

4 Girl taking sign from heroine    left in Wotan’s ring?
GOLD
L [left] in GOD [Wotan]

5 Last light in background for tabloid    performed by force of habit in meal could be a cinch
SETTING SUN
SETTING [background] + SUN [tabloid]

6 Brünnhilde’s farewell cut short by liturgical piece    smothered by love poet (not English)
VALKYRIE
VAL[e] [farewell cut short] + KYRIE [liturgical piece]

7 Savage to blurt out about a    devilish casserole that can be 60% put right
DIABLE

DIABLE is 60% of remeDIABLE [can be put right]:  I knew DIABLE as a spicy [devilish] French sauce, so had lazily left it at that, on the analogy of ‘I’ve made chilli for tonight’, but recourse to Chambers [alone of my dictionaries] produced ‘an unglazed earthenware casserole with a handle and a wide base tapering up to a narrow neck’ with, disappointingly, no indication of the devilish derivation

8 Pretend to be a Nibelung    to help a heroine
MIME
double definition: MIME is a Nibelung, brother of Alberich, one of my favourite setters!

14 Fall further behind having broken rod on part of horse,    some coming with pledge to find modus vivendi
COMPROMISE
COM [some COMing!] + PROMISE [pledge]

15 Male people’s failure to move    house abroad in twice three-penny opera
TANNHAUSER
HAUS [German for house – abroad] in TANNER [twice threepenny = sixpence = tanner] – lovely surface!

17 Celebrated authentic holy relic    without loss of life on figurehead in birthplace, perhaps
SANGREAL
SANG [celebrated] + REAL [authentic]

18 Toadstool found by orphaned Belgian painter outside home counties    making home as that of badger on heath
SETTLING
SETT [home of badger] on LING [heath]

20 Man’s name in field with island saint,    but one with house abroad
HELENA
LEN [man’s name] in LEA [field]: Edit – this, of course, is nonsense [thanks again, PeterO – you are right about the time lag!]: HE [man] + N [name] in LEA [field]

21 Profoundly deaf leaders’ answer topped    books at length getting round Venetian general
DEEPLY
DE [first two letters – leaders – of DEaf] + [r]EPLY [answer topped]

22 Knight of the river’s river’s second river    was on top of his distemper
WASH
WAS on first letter – top – of  His

23 Merry Meg taken from book,    one that buzzes loudly for food
BEEF
BEE [one that buzzes] + F [loudly]

39 Responses to “Guardian Easter Prize puzzle 25,909 / Araucaria”

  1. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen for a splendid blog. I was surely more daunted than you at the outset, being one of those persons in Tom Lehrer who spoke of “Mozart, or one of that crowd.” But I too was a Victor Borge enthusiast, and know a skerrick. Enough to identify the two composers quickly, and solve two thirds without aids. But the last two, THIBAUT and TAFF,took as long as the rest together.

  2. PeterO says:

    Thanks, of course, to Araucaria, and to Eileen for a blog almost as much a tour de force as the puzzle. My entry point was 8D, giving me both composers, and, since both answers have an I as their second letter, VERDI followed for 10A, identifying grida A and B. It was kind of Araucaria to give a reasonably easy entry into such a knotty crossword (or crosswords). 22D (A) was my last in, and it was some time after deciding that TAFF must be the answer that the penny dropped on the wordplay.

    A couple of points: 20D (B) I am sure shows the lag between solving and blogging – it is HE (‘man’) plus (‘s for has) N (‘name’) in LEA (‘field’). Your parsing of 25A (A) sees to leave it without a definition; RIGOLETTO was jester to the Duke of Mantua, and RIG is indicated just by ‘outfit’.

    Accordig to Larousse Gastronomique, a diable consists of two shallow earthenware pans which fit together rim to rim, for such purposes as roasting chestnuts (so that it can be turned over halfway though to ensure even cooking). It was originally intended to be used over hot coals, which I take it accounts for the name.

  3. chas says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the blog.

    My researches showed the page in Don Carlos was Tebaldo. That may perhaps be another way of saying Thibault but it was not obvious to me.

    23A(B) an anagram of ‘real bus’ gives BELARUS as well as BRESLAU. This caused me a lot of trouble.

  4. michelle says:

    These two puzzles were hard work but I was close to ecstatic that I finished them over two sessions on Saturday and Sunday. I had never seen or attempted a double-grid puzzle where the clues are written in this way, but of course the division of the grids into Verdi & Wagner-related clues/answers helped immensely, especially as I solved 10a immediately. I also had a LOT of help from Wikipedia.

    My favourites were RHETORICAL, TROVATORE, STABILISER, GRISETTE, TANNHAUSER, BEEF, SIEGLINDE.

    I was unable to parse 22d(A), 7d(B) & 22d(A). As it turns out, I had made mistakes with the latter two. For 22d(A) I had guessed TOFF = ‘knight’ and in 7(B) I entered VIABLE = ‘put right’.

    I also made a mistake with 20d(A) where I entered MAINOR, parsed as an insertion of I (one) in MANOR (house) with definition = ‘abroad, a stolen object found on the thief’. Yes, it was a stretch but I never thought of MAISON, a word I actually know as opposed to ‘mainor’ which I discovered in the dictionary.

    Anyway, I am still pleased that I solved all but three answers correctly!

    Thanks to Araucaria for a fabulous puzzle and to Eileen for a superb blog.

  5. michelle says:

    Can someone please explain in more detail the parsing of 22d Grid A TAFF. I still don’t understand the FAL’S TAFF [the river’s river] apart from the fact that the TAFF is a river in Wales. Does the ‘river’s/Fal’s’ refer to the Fal River in Cornwall? (I have just discovered these rivers via google).

    However, I do understand why I failed to solve this clue as I have never heard of either river! But I had heard of Falstaff.

  6. michelle says:

    Further thoughts on devilish derivations of DIABLE. The word derives from French ‘diable’, and from ecclesiastical Latin ‘diabolus’ = ‘devil.’ Modern Italian is ‘diavolo’ = ‘devil’.

  7. Jim says:

    Printed it out, took one look at it, and threw it in the bin. I knew I had absolutely no chance of finishing it.

  8. Frank says:

    I’m usually less than satisfied when I fail to finish any kind of puzzle or crossword, but I was as pleased as punch to complete about 60% of this one!

  9. Bryan says:

    Well done, Eileen!

    Like Jim @7, I took one look and I immediately abandoned it.

    I have seen several operas – a friend of mine often lends me his box at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden – but invariably I have fallen asleep. I much prefer Ballet.

    I hereby recommend you for a substantial bonus for having achieved what would have been impossible for me.

  10. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    About four hours to complete this!

    I could find only ThibauLt, but assumed (because I couldn’t parse it) the answer must be Thibaut; is this an Anglicised spelling?

  11. colin says:

    Thanks to Eileen and Araucaria.

    Another tour de force from the Rev, one that finally surrendered late on Sunday after several intense battles. It didn’t help that I have an less than adequate knowledge of the subject matter (although the puzzle has aroused my interest!) Luckily the themes were fairly obvious and 10A was first in so there was no problems about which grid the answers went in.

    At the time of solving I had a few niggles, feeling that perhaps there was an inconsistency of spelling (original or English translation) and that some of the clues were overly elaborate. THIBAUT gave me a lot of trouble and I can’t find many references on-line to this this spelling. Perhaps Verdi fans can explain further. Looking back though, these are just that – niggles.

    Thanks again Araucaria for the Easter entertainment.

  12. muffin says:

    Thanks Eileen and Araucaria
    This was a very satisfying complete!
    As with chas @3, Google gave me Tebaldo and Thibault, but I couldn’t find THIBAUT (no L).
    As I am sure most of you know, SANG REAL means “true blood”, but if it is spaced as SAN GREAL it could be taken as “Holy Grail”, which is mentioned in more than one Wagner opera and features in Parsifal.

  13. Eileen says:

    Many thanks to PeterO for the corrections – sloppy research re RIGOLETTO!

    Michelle @5 and 6

    I realise now that it’s a while since we had FAL as river [or ‘flower’] – it used to be much more common, so I didn’t comment on it.

    I was referring to the devilish derivation of the casserole, which PeterO [thanks again] seems to have explained.

    Thanks for the kind thought, Bryan, but a percentage of nothing is, I think, nothing. It’s literally a labour of love [which is not lost, particularly in this case! ;-)]

    Re the spelling of THIBAUT: the wordplay led to that as the solution, so I typed ‘Thibaut, Don Carlos’ into Google, to check, and it came up with a pageful of that spelling, so I didn’t research further.

  14. chas says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the blog.

    My researches showed the page in Don Carlos was Tebaldo. That may perhaps be another way of saying Thibaut but it was not obvious to me.
    A complication is that there is a soldier named Thibault in Sicilian Vespers.

    23A(B) an anagram of ‘real bus’ gives BELARUS as well as BRESLAU. This caused me a lot of trouble. I have now discovered that my lack of geographical knowledge let me down: Belarus is a country not a city :(

  15. michelle says:

    muffin@12

    I was under the impression that SANG REAL means ‘royal blood’.

    And SAN GRAAL or SAN GREAL = ‘holy grail’.

    It reminded me of a book I enjoyed reading in the 1980’s: The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (retitled Holy Blood, Holy Grail in the United States) by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln.

  16. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Araucaria

    A blog of heroic dimensions for a grand-masterly puzzle.

    Too much to comment on in detail, but it must be said that that this is Araucaria’s best puzzle for some time with masses of clever, teasing clues and the usual light touch.

    The SW corners of both puzzles held me up especially A’s. Eventually, to my relief, the penny dropped.

    I will have to listen later to Victor Borge – getting ready to go out for the day – but I too was an enormous fan and went to see him on stage once in London. A remarkable mixture of childish simplicity and sophistication, with the immaculate timing that marks all great comedians. I recall a wonderful acting out of an opera (probably one of Wagner’s). He very quickly had the whole audience in the palm of his hand.

  17. michelle says:

    Eileen@13
    thanks, I understand Fal & Taff are rivers now. I should have done more research last week.

    Others above@3, 10, 11: I also found variants of the name THIBAUT as Tebaldo and Thibault via google but I was happy to insert THIBAUT as my answer even though I could not parse it, because at least I knew he was a page in ‘Don Carlos’.

  18. Ian SW3 says:

    Many thanks, Eileen and Araucaria, as always.

    I don’t remember much about my solving process at this remove, except that I carried a prinout with me all Saturday afternoon filling in a few answers here and there at odd moments. It all fell pretty easily, except that I had to resort to looking up the name of the page in Don Carlos, which I think I’ve only seen once. I too found a different spelling, but the wordplay became clear.

  19. Mr Beaver says:

    I was initially as heartsunk as Jim and Bryan, having little knowledge of opera, but the challenge of an Araucaria special is irresistible. There were plenty of hints in the clues about one of the composers being Wagner and 10a quickly leapt out as VERDI, so it was a quick check on Wikipedia to confirm their birth dates.
    The same site was also invaluable to list their operas, which I reckon is fair game for a theme based on ‘specialist’ knowledge. Though most of the answers were pretty widely known, I’d say.
    I just fell down on THIBAUT – our online friend spelled it Thibault, so I shortened it to Thibalt, having entirely overlooked Toshiba as the electronics company!

  20. Tony Davis says:

    I was introduced to opera while still at school, but this crossword revealed how scrappy my knowledge is. I failed to get FLORA, and had to resort to Wikipedia for the page in Don Carlos. Like Mr Beaver @19, I assumed that Thibault (Tebaldo) must have an alternative spelling of Thibalt. I got the T[os]hiba part, so realised that the note required must be ‘ut’ – one item in my musical knowledge that hasn’t (yet) deserted me.

    I didn’t know DIABLE or MIME, which might have helped me to get ALIBI. Nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed the (rather long-drawn-out) experience. Thank you Eileen, for a very impressive blog – and Araucaria remains my favourite setter by a long way.

  21. liz says:

    Eileen, you’ve certainly done us proud with your first Bank Holiday special! Thanks for a superb blog. And many thanks, of course, to Araucaria for a lot of teasing fun.

    My knowledge of opera is pretty limited. Wagner isn’t my cup of tea and when I saw a production of Rigoletto many years ago I was seized by a desperate desire to laugh during the final death scene, which can hardly be what Verdi intended.

    Even so, I found this both an enjoyable solve and a fairly steady one. VERDI was the first clue I got and a quick Google established Wagner as the other composer. I didn’t feel it was too much like cheating to have to rely on Wiki for some of the less familiar characters and references.

    Like molongo @1, I found TAFF and THIBAUT took almost as long as the rest of it put together. I was terribly pleased to parse TAFF after a lot of head-scratching. THIBAUT foxed me completely — I knew it had to be right (and I managed to find the spelling without the ‘L’ in one of my searches) but I would never in a million years got there via Toshiba…

  22. claire says:

    Fantastic puzzle and a great explanatory blog. Thanks to Auracaria and Eileen.

    Managed to finish this with the help of a classical music encyclopaedia, and reading through the plots of some of the operas to find characters etc. I was reminded why, though I generally like operatic music, I don’t go to the opera!

    You mentioned Pointless, Eileen, which was quite a coincidence as it was only thanks to that programme that I was able to solve 14d(A) -DRO-PASTERN. It was only recently that PASTERN featured as an answer in the show – never heard it before.

  23. Eileen says:

    Hi claire – me too, re PASTERN!

  24. jvector says:

    Adding my thanks to Eileen and to Araucaria for a challenge that lasted the whole of the Easter weekend and the rest of the week after, and was still not quite complete today!
    I got quite optimistic when I discerned the theme(s), as Wagner in particular is a bit of a passion in this house… but the puzzle still turned out to be very tough.

    There are a few, but only a few, clues where I can’t discern any connection to the A/B themes – some of them were very clever … ‘Setting Sun’ referencing Twilight Of The Gods, ‘Christmas Season’ referring to the BBC’s Ring Cycle broadcasts in December; ‘Compromise’ could perhaps refer to Wotan’s predicament and the ‘trip’ in ‘Tripled’ could be Siegfried’s Rhine journey maybe; and so on. But I could not find a real fit for ‘Beef’, ‘Wash’, ‘Headstone’, ‘Rhetorical’ or ‘Familiar’. Nevertheless, still a fabulous accomplishment from a master of the craft.

  25. michelle says:

    It seems we have quite a different group posting to this blog today. Where are many of the “usual suspects”? I was looking forward to their (your) comments on this puzzle. You know who I mean…..

  26. Samui Pete says:

    Many many thanks Eileen! Bloody hell..

  27. claire says:

    Hi Michelle, I probably visit this site every day and have for some time.

    [Unfortunately (or not – I don’t know)I never get to do the crossword until I come home from work, so by the time it’s done, any and all relevant comments have usually been made. This may be the case for many people. It’s a bit different at weekends/bank holidays, where more people are around. Maybe that explains the ‘different group’ posting.]

  28. David Mop says:

    Many thanks for the magnificent blog.

    I normally enjoy Araucaria’s Bank Holiday specials but on this occasion I joined those who cast it aside. Yes, I suppose I could have googled a list of the operas and their principal parts, and then tried to fit the names to the clues. But that’s not my idea of fun.

  29. sheffield hatter says:

    Agree with Dave Mop. I got as far as I could with general knowledge, but I call it a defeat if I resort to Google or Wikipedia – I don’t mind checking that a word exists if I’ve got it from the word play, but searching long lists of operas for the characters therein (especially when there is variable spelling involved) is not my idea of fun either.

    Quite pleased to have got SIMON BOCCANEGRA, given my lack of specialist knowledge. I would not have got ROMAN WALL in a million years, as neither the Antonine nor Hadrian’s were built to “exclude the Scots” (even with a “?”), so I was looking for words meaning “exclude” in Scots dialect!

  30. sheffield hatter says:

    Sorry, that should be David Mop @28.

  31. Davy says:

    Thanks Eileen,

    I didn’t quite finish this but found it immensely enjoyable. I don’t know much about opera but there were loads of clues that didn’t require any knowledge of opera.
    There was so much fun in this puzzle and it was a real tour de force from the great man. I did nearly give up a few times but persevered and solved probably six clues
    each time I had another go. Liked BOLIVIA, HEADSTONE, STABILISER and SETTING SUN. Long may you reign Arry.

    Just been watching the Victor Borge opera sketch and although I’ve not seen it for years, it is still brilliant
    with many laugh out loud moments.

  32. nametab says:

    Hi Michelle: very late comment, but ditto Claire’s comment @27 – and also have been away with no internet access.
    Learned a lot of opera from this one.
    Thanks Eileen & A

  33. Jane B says:

    A wonderful crossword from Araucaria. It kept me going right through Easter. Like molonglo, I found TAFF and THIBAUT to be the sticking points and stuck I was for days. In the end I thought that if I read “River’s river’s second river” one more time I would go mad, and had to admit defeat. Thank you, Eileen, for the explanation. The disappointment of not finishing was far outweighed by the enjoyment of the crossword itself.

  34. Old Fakir says:

    Well, we shouldn’t be nasty to old Auracaria, but what a disappointment. Opened the Easter Guardian, tongue hanging out, looking forward to a weekend of crossword solving and … pow!. . . right in the orchestra pit. It’s a bit unfair to make a crossword of a specialist subject – I have no knowledge of opera (and no wish to have any, thanks) but I bet I could give you a run for your money on the jazz guitar. I looked at it longingly for about 10 minutes, realised I didn’t have a cat in hell’s chance of doing a single clue, and popped it straight under the parrot cage.

  35. Geoff says:

    In many ways a very challenging pair of crosswords but great fun (ok, i like Verdi and Wagner, which helped) . But I could not find the spelling ‘thibaut’ for the page in Don Carlos anywhere: Tebaldo and Thibault are the only versions I have ever come across. Homer nodded?

  36. Eileen says:

    Hi Geoff @35

    Re my comment 13

    I have just again typed ‘Thibaut, Don Carlos’ into Google: here is a selection from the first couple of pages:

    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=eKiDsveTpBwC&pg=PA205&lpg=PA205&dq=Thibaut,+Don+Carlos&source=bl&ots=5LYKdSLX48&sig=-apLz0EPN0Jb6UkHAdskHmzmUps&hl=en&sa=X&ei=CX1kUcn2BurH0QWl7YHIAw&ved=0CEkQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=Thibaut%2C%20Don%20Carlos&f=false

    http://www.donaldrunnicles.org/event/don-carlos/ [click on ‘Cast’]

    http://www.facebook.com/events/399336290146265/

    http://www.classictic.com/en/don_carlo__deutsche_oper_berlin/19639/

    http://www.operapassion.com/cd11990.html

  37. CLG says:

    A small piece of pedantry – Latvia is misplaced in A as Wagner was conductor in residence in Riga for a couple of years…..

    A superb xwd brilliantly blogged

  38. PeterM says:

    Although I dislike all opera post-Mozart (especially Wagner) I do recognise the titles, so as to know what to avoid. Of course, I had to rely on guesswork, guided by the wordplay, for the Verdi heroines, so am glad I did find them all.
    I knew PASTERN from Dr Johnson as NOT the knee of a horse!

  39. Geoff says:

    Eileen @36: thanks! I somehow missed your message @13. My faith in the setter is restored …

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