Classical Music Buzz > Brian Dickie
Brian Dickie
Life after 50 years in opera and still counting......
2327 Entries

Castleton July 3 2014

Castleton 8:00 pm July 2 2014

We had a bad storm in Castleton last night which knocked out the electric power and the internet. So we all went to bed in the dark. But the lights came on at 5 am although the Internet remains out for the foreseeable future given that it is the Fourth of July tomorrow and then the weekend…….this appears to be an annual recurrence!

Castleton July 3 2014-6

Tyler Nelson, Javier Arrey (DG) and Chloé Moore (Donna Anna)

The Don Giovanni dress rehearsal was this morning – lots of progress and ready to go! It is heart warming to see Tyler Nelson as a really distinguished Don Ottavio. Tyler was with us for a couple of seasons at COT, in Cavalli’s Giasone in 2011, an unforgettable performance in drag as Delfa. And he returned the following year as a member of the ensemble for our Charpentier Médée. He is an artist of consummate integrity – used to the full as Ottavio.

I will try to get a collection of photos of the Don Giovanni up in an album at some point, for the benefit of Castleton artists.  But you may have to be patient.  The internet downage is a pain!  And it is now 10 pm and I am done for the night........Happy Fourth of July to everyone.

2 months ago | |
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Don Giovanni Pre DR-3

It is always great to get to the orchestra and costume stage - and that is where Don Giovanni was today, taking shape and promising much but still with work to do - normal!

Don Giovanni Pre DR-2

      Tyler Nelson (Don Ottavio) Chloé Moore (Donna Anna) Tyler Simpson (Leporello) Jennifer Black (Donna Elvira)     Nicholas Masters (Masetto) and Amanda Crider (Zerlina)

I got a few shots which give a nice impression of the look of Giandomenico Vaccari's production, with extremely effective set design by Collette Pollard.  And the cast look good too!

Don Giovanni Pre DRJavier Arrrey in the title role

It seems that we have a red alert this evening - the thunder is already rumbling away.  It has been very hot today - in the 90s.

2 months ago | |
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CATS at work

Hot Summer weather wear for the CATS!

One of the many productive activities of the Castleton Young Artists is the end of season "scenes" program which can now get into top gear since the Don Giovanni is now ready to go.  But music first - and they had a rough musical run through of the programme yesterday morning which I attended.  It was a good opportunity to get an impression of some of the singers before they are scheduled to come to my sessions.

Another great feature of their programme is the work they do on acting and Lieder with Dietlinde Maazel. Yesterday afternoon she did a session devoted to monologues and the thought process for the actor.....fascinating.  She will be doing a Lieder class this morning.  I attended some of those last year - it is hugely rewarding work for the singers to get such in depth insight from this distinguished actor. 

I have two sessions today but hope to get into some of the Pre-Dress of Don Giovanni. It runs from 11:00 to 14:30.  More later!

2 months ago | |
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Castleton tent

Castleton Festival Theatre 6:50 pm June 30 2014

I was at some Don Giovanni rehearsals yesterday after my session with some of the young artists.  The theatre tent is remarkable - not what you might think from the word "tent".  The acoustics are splendid and a good stage/pit balance seems easy to achieve. The sound is warm not dry, but clear.  Yesterday's rehearsals were stage and orchestra of Act 2 for the main part - no costume.  The piano dress is this evening, Pre-Dress tomorrow, and Dress on Thursday.  I hope to illustrate my description those rehearsals.........

And there are other tents outside - the VIP bar for example!  And the view from there you see below around 8:45 yesterday evening.

Castleton tent-2

I have a full day today and have a chance to observe all the Castleton young artists (CATS) in various activities, including sessions for a group of them with me for "mock" auditions and discussions about choices and challenges. And this evening our "commune" will be dining together again.  There is a fantastic warm collegial spirit in this place.  A joy to be here!

2 months ago | |
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Castleton Mozart concert rehearsalDonald Runnicles and the Castleton Festival Orchestra 10:45 Sunday June 29 2014

It was great to see Donald Runnicles again after too many years.  He was here yesterday to conduct a beautiful Mozart programme - a nice 2 pm concert of Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Mozart's A major fiddle concerto, immaculately played by Eric Silberger, and the Jupiter.  And he got immensely polished playing from the young orchestra (led by Paç Pavaci, my Albanian buddy) - with the finale of the Jupiter at a cracking speed. Terrific!

Between the rehearsal and the concert Donald came back to our "commune" for lunch, and then returned for dinner (there were a dozen or more of us) before a good night's sleep for him before flying off on a leisurely noon flight to Jackson Hole where he is in charge of the Grand Teton Music Festival.

I start my work here today - and look forward also to being at stage and orchestra rehearsals of the Don Giovanni which opens next Saturday evening.

2 months ago | |
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Castleton morning-2
Breakfast view - Castleton 7:30 am June 29 2014

I am here - not a bad view to wake up to with my first, and second, cups of coffee!

I had a great journey with British Airways, on time and with the kindest possible cabin crew.  And I was already in Castleton less than two hours after landing having navigated passport and customs controls without problem, a quick shuttle to Budget Rental - and on my way!

It was opening night of the Madama Butterfly.  I was not in time for the performance but I got to Crest Hill, this lovely house on the Maazel farm, unpacked, settled in, and then made my way to the party - of course!  But an early departure from that was followed by more than six hours sleep - not bad for a transatlantic first night.

Today is a day off for the company so that is is good.  But there is a Mozart concert this afternoon which will be a delightful way to break myself in to the Castleton spirit.  More about that later.........for now its coffee time!

2 months ago | |
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Rudel1I was saddened to hear of the death of Julius this week.  American opera is in his debt, as are generationsof singers and other artists who were his "children". I will cherish the memory of his work with us in Toronto 25 years ago, and the memory too of his remarkable New York City Opera - alas no more.......

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A newish and rather unknown festival opened yesterday evening in a church just a few paces from Waterloo station.  And it was something of a really nice discovery.  For me the pleasure was meeting an excellent new baritone for the first time - Benjamin Appl - and for connecting up again with a distinguished and greatly loved old colleague Adrian Thompson.

They were bringing great distinction to a performance of a new Orchestral Song Cycle - The Pity of War - skillfully devised by David Corkhill from Britten's War Requiem.  It is somewhat weird hearing these Wilfred Owen texts divorced from Britten's masterpiece.  But it works and was really impressively performed.  Appl is a big talent, and Adrian Thompson is the personification of authority in this repertoire.  He has come a long way from the Glyndebourne Chorus of more than 35 years ago.  

All in all I had a great evening.  Tomorrow I am on the road to Castleton and a fascinating ten days.  Watch this space!

2 months ago | |
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The production of La finta giardiniera, which opens at Glyndebourne this weekend, is the first time the company has produced this youthful work of its resident composer Mozart.  However the opera has been seen there before presented in English by Opera North!

I first heard Finta in Wexford in 1965.  The year of the Eberts father and son.  Carl directed Don Quichotte and Peter Finta.  Mozart's teenage work was often discussed in Glyndebourne planning meetings in the 60s, 70, and 80s.  So its good to see it there at last.  Act 2 is stunning - full of sensuous love music that only a passionate 18 year old could possibly have written.  Of course he would have to be a genius.....it is marvellous.  So do not be impatient after Act 1 - the goods are worth waiting for, especially in the hands of Robin Ticciati and the lovely Christiane Karg who is a real star turn.  There is a string of knock out things that in a certain sense Mozart never surpassed.  And you at last really care about the destiny of these people who spring to life, out of the box of late baroque formality. 

I hope the production has a success - the audience yesterday evening was bowled over.  Quite right!  But that said, Act 1 is a problem for me!  I will see it again, an actual performance, on July 18.  I will then expand!!

Meanwhile I am preparing for ten days in Castleton, leaving London on Saturday afternoon. It will be lovely to be there again.

2 months ago | |
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The celebration of the life of George Harewood at the Coliseum yesterday evening was a joyful event.  Attended by all who knew, loved and worked with him, and many others besides, it was a worthy tribute, beautifully devised by David Pountney and Henrietta Breden, and presented by David with his customary fluent charm and twinkling wit.  And the matching contribution from Mark Elder said it all about the unique position of Lord Harewood in the pantheon.

There were major contributions from John Tomlinson, a God amongst the other stars, as well as the likes of the inimitable Lesley Garrett teaching us all to sing the Leeds United supporters anthem.  The climax of the evening was the Mystery Trio, the three Norns morphing like old Papagena into the "Three little Dames from school are we", Lott, Evans and Palmer.  Wonderful!

All together a brilliant and heart warming evening.

This afternoon is something else - a trip to Glyndebourne for the Dress Rehearsal of La finta giardiniera.

2 months ago | |
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