Tuesday, 22 May 2018
Cleo from 7 to 8.30
I've made my homage to Friday's special event on The Arts Desk, and I don't have many more words to add; I just want the excuse to add a couple more photos taken at Friday evening's astonishing event by Patrick Anderson. J and I, reeling out stunned by the high level of the 90-year-old's delivery in four songs - that's technique and soul for you - and by her obvious Menschian qualities, recalled that La Laine was always in the background as we grew up - her jazz and scat-singing, endlessly impersonated, at a more sophisticated level than that of a torchsong belter like Shirley Bassey (often watched at home with the sound down, my parents' idea of fun). Yet she is undeniably one of the greats.
I see I've already told how when I shared a flat in No. 32 Dundas Street in my second year at Edinburgh University, we wore out a budget-price reissue of Cleo singing in the 1950s. And in the review I mention the sensation, at her appearance in Michael Tilson Thomas's LSO series The Gershwin Years, of feeling as if she was singing to me alone, so direct was her communication. Those flashing eyes roving round the audience and fixing on individuals were still at work on Friday. Kudos to Jude Kelly, again, for choosing so well in the Southbank's (B)Old - as in 'Be Old', creatively - festival. Sorry to have missed Julie 'Going to the Zoo' Felix in the Clore Ballroom earlier.
Feeling dizzy from ten days of spectacular events. This would have to be the greatest, but the reminder of what peerless ensemble acting is all about in the Maly Theatre of St Petersburg's meticulously observed double whammy was wondrous and has sent me back to Grossman's Life and Fate to try again (this time I'll stay the course). Cédric Tiberghien's exquisite and encyclopedic Chopin playing redeemed Paul Kildea's narrative in the spectacular setting of Brighton Pavilion's Music Room (more on that little excursion anon). The accompaniment to the 1926 silent film all too loosely based on the operatic Der Rosenkavalier in the carefully renovated Queen Elizabeth Hall was a treat - the first real sugar rush of the week.
The second was the opera itself, on Sunday at Glyndebourne. I've written up my second visit to the Richard Jones production, with a very different revival cast, here on The Arts Desk. But I ought to add here the interesting perspectives given by my companion, artist friend (and mother of our youngest goddaughter Mirabel) Edwina and her friend Christine. Here's Edsy before our picnic in blissful seclusion.
They found the opera spooky, weird and unsettling - the Jones effect, but it's definitely there in the music's queasy gearchanges and timeleaps. As Bill Knight took a special batch of photos for The Arts Desk, it's a pleasure to have the excuse of using more than the original four over there. Here are Rachel Willis-Sørensen, a redhead taking very well to the raven-haired look of original Marschallin Kate Royal, and Kate Lindsay, the most lustrous of Octavians (Tara Erraught first time round was funnier in the cross-dressing comedy, but not quite on the same level vocally).
No question about this Leopold, bastard son of Ochs and acted once again by Joseph Badar as a crucial component of the drama, presenting the silver rose. Here he is flanked by Brindley Sherratt as his feckless dad and Willis-Sørensen.
Erraught's and Lars Woldt's were the faces made for comedy last time: on Sunday the winning mug belonged to Elizabeth Sutphen as a feisty Sophie.
Rose-presentation: again unforgettable the slight swaying, prefaced by raised heels from all which get a laugh, but the seriousness kicks in again very quickly.
Time for Sherratt to step forward fully in his visual transformation (gammon make-up and hideous wig). Ochs and Annina (Stephanie Lauricella, classy casting),
delight in the letter as the retinue unfold girlie cards to parallel the fashion pictures for the Marschallin's levée in Act One
and payup time in Act Three (oddly Bill doesn't have any pics of the big stuff thereafter).
After that claustrophobia it was good to get out into the gardens in a blissful evening light overlooking the fields and downs.
I don't always make the first Glyndebourne weekend, so I'd forgotten what flourishes in the garden at this time. Irises everywhere, of course
complemented by alliums
and the yellow variety by the lake.
Wisteria still flourishing by the house
and the first roses along the wall.
Dicksonia antarctica springing up from its winter sleep
and one final shot of picnickers with the mulberry in the foreground. What a lush time of year.
Lovely weather for the wedding, too, the previous day. Yes, I watched the service live, switching off rapidly as the coach hit Windsor town and the blether of the BBC commentators became too much (only Kirsty Young kept it real). Loved the contrast between Tallis's 'If Ye Love Me' and the Gospel choir. Both performances were excellent, but I'm glad that cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason had the limelight. He'll stay calm and centred now that he's a megastar, and no-one deserved the success more; he's a natural.
Decca issued this photo (uncredited) to celebrate big sales for his debut album, also far from the usual bits and pieces (it includes a complete performance of his signature Shostakovich First Cello Concerto with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by the superb Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla - her CD debut too, I think I'm right in saying).
We're a long way now from Cleo. Or perhaps not... The title, by the way, homages one of my favourite films, which I wrote about here.