Friday, 17 July 2009
This has become relentlessly operatic, I know, but to paraphrase the motto of our Yankeediva (see below), ‘it’s all been good’ – unsurpassably great, in fact, what with Rusalka, Falstaff and Barbiere close on the heels of meeting the Anderssons. And it may continue a bit operaticky for a while, when it continues at all, until I get to my first Proms the week after next. Photos above and below are by Chris Christodoulou for the BBC, whom I'll be calling upon over the season as before.
Was going to Haitink’s Mahler 9 on Monday but decided to give up the ticket as friend Andrew Hammond is celebrating his imminent succentorship at St Paul's Cathedral in style. I felt it would do him a dishonour to roll up late and Gustav-drunk (those last cries and whispers, if they work, are not going to leave one in a party mood). How many times do I need to hear Haitink conduct Mahler 9, anyway? Supreme musician though he is, his interpretations are rather carved in stone these days, so I don’t expect much variation from the last occasion. The LSO, at least, will be relieved to be digging a little deeper than they did with Gergiev last June.
So my first two Proms will probably be Petrushka with an 8-year old on 27 July and Firebird on the Tuesday because I now have to talk Stravinsky with the best animateur in the business, Chris Cook, at 5.15 in the Royal College of Music just south of the Albert Hall. I’m replacing indisposed choreographer Richard Alston, big shoes into which to step. The scheduled appearance is for 19 August, when I’ll be discussing Shostakovich with that nice Andrew McGregor and a fellow Russianist I very much respect, Philip Ross Bullock. Edited versions are due to appear on R3 in the 20-minute intervals. Crikey, the studio folk will have to work fast to whittle us down from the three-quarters-of-an-hour mark.
The next week and a bit, where no Proms hugely appeal, will be a good time to take stock, have leisurely suppers with friends and maybe catch up on a play or two. In the meantime, the Proms schedule is once again to be found here.
Amazing how many Proms have sold out already (in the seats department only, of course – I intend to hit the arena for quite a few).
On Sunday - just a couple of updates to 'Farewell, Ted and Joan', which was so soon left behind in the ongoing whirl of life. There's an informed precis of the various obits on britishpapers.co.uk, while in the Observer, Boudicca Downes talks about her extraordinary parents and the last moments. Incidentally, the naming of 'Crac' (Caractacus) and 'Bo' misled me into thinking Ted and Joan must be flag-waving tories, whereas he was a staunch socialist and a passionate NHS supporter. Their liberal conversation soon disabused me of that error.