We always used to regard this July - August period as down time, the "silly season", when nothing much happened and we could all relax and play. Then I went to work at Glyndebourne for 27 years and everything changed. And now I am back being silly again.........so you will I hope excuse me for my lapses!
I missed out on the Welsh National Opera Moses and Aaron which visited Covent Garden last week, which I regret. And I have so far only been to one of the "Proms". But tomorrow I am going to revel in the performance of an old friend and colleague, Rebecca Caine, in The Ladies who Lunch at The Pheasantry, the decidedly up market version of Pizza Express on the King's Road. Just the thing for the silly season you may say.
Matt Boehler and Rebecca Caine - Owen Wingrave Chicago Opera Theater 2009
Becky is a remarkable artist and person. From the Glyndebourne Chorus way back she made a huge name for herself in music theatre, in the West End and widely internationally, initially as the original Cosette in Les Miserables, and then in Phantom. I then scooped her up from that to sing the title role in Lulu in Toronto - a huge hit for her and for us. She sang Haydn in Nice when I was there in the 90s - and then popped up again as a superb Mrs Coyle in Owen Wingrave in Chicago in 2009.
She also has the dubious distinction of having bullied me into signing up tor Facebook........she is very persuasive.
I will no doubt have more to say after tomorrow evening's entertainment!
I am neglecting my business after my short break in Northumberland. I feel particularly bad about not geting to Tête à Tête's terrific enterprise up in Kings Cross. I hope to get there more than once before they finish on August 10 but for the time being I have to concentrate on keeping my contractor on the job. I do not want to end up moving into a building site.......meanwhile I wish dear Bill Bankes-Jones all the huge success he works so hard for, and deserves in abundance!
There was a short break from hot sun yesterday - so expeditions to "sights" or "sites" - I never know which - was the order of the day. And Bamburgh Castle was the morning project. Although still in private ownership the family live in more user friendly conditions near by. However the place has over the years been lovingly cared for and is a popular tourist attraction although there are very few tourists in this part of England! And Northumberland is the least densely populated county in England, with just 62 people per square kilometre, so there are not so many locals either.
Inside Bamburgh Castle
And after late lunch and general lolling around we went off to Lindisfarne, later than it might have been as the tide only receded to allow a crossing on the causeway at around 4pm. Holy Island has indeed a wonderful feeling of solitude and has very few of the visitor amenities that often damage such places.
St Mary's Church, beside the Priory, is a beautiful quiet place to sit and contemplate. And the Priory itself, a romantic and magical ruin, looks out onto the sea with the Castle in the distance.
And so around 6:30 we made our way back over the low tide to the mainland - where the weather was beginning to clear and we were treated to a beautiful early evening sitting in the sun. As we crossed the causeway the signs were clear.....
We are returning to London this afternoon.....too short a break!
Bamburgh Beach 11 am July 22 2014
It was a perfect day yesterday - more fun in the sea for the children and NO people to watch for the rest of us! This is the far northeast coast of England near the Scottish border so the water is not warm.....but the modern trend to wet suits makes it painless for the young ones.
It is cloudy today - will clear later.........and we had a power cut!
The only two people visible here are my eldest son Patrick and his youngest son Joe. And they are just specks on the horizon! This is Holy Island at 6:30 yesterday evening in this glorious part of England. The tide was out, as it pretty well has to be to get on the Island via the causeway which is covered at high tide.
With weather such as we are having this week this is about as good as it gets for a holiday in England. Not yet discovered by the masses - just too far from London!
I will be in Northumberland for the next four days with family - it is one of the most beautiful parts of this country, so watch for news and pictures in due course. Meanwhile I will be on a train to Berwick-upon-Tweed with my younger daughter at 11 am for the 3:45 hour ride from London.
A visit to Lord's for the third day of the test against India was a real treat. And rather intriguing as once again the England bowlers were the ones that scored the runs. The regular batsmen were failing. My American friends will understand the concept of the pitchers saving the day for the failed strikers.....not with the ball but with the bat.
The hero of the day was England's Liam Plunkett (or is he Irish? Or a Yorkshiremen?) He came in to bat on Friday evening as the "nightwatchman" - and batted out the innings yesterday morning scoring a half century and finished 55 not out. It was a brilliant performance for a number 10 - mirroring number 11 Jimmy Anderson's effort in the first Test last week. And he then went on to take a couple of wickets in India's second innings. Sorry folks - I am not here to explain cricket to you. The most beautiful game in the world - just believe me!
Liam Plunkett - hero of the day!
And for a little light relief I went to the Prom last night when my old friend Yu Long brought his China Philharmonic to town. There was a packed out house at the Albert Hall - than means over four thousand I believe - and the popular programme was roundly cheered. And great evening for Long and for China!
I was at Gyndebourne yesterday evening on a perfect day - Glyndebourne at its very best, and one of the joys of a good English summer. I saw the sixth performance of La finta giardiniera, a highly polished performance that only extremely meticulous preparation can produce. Here was proof, if needed, that an extended rehearsal period makes a huge difference.
It was also an opportunity to introduce Glyndebourne to two Neue Stimmen colleagues, Ines Koring and Christoph Ludewig. And of course it could not have been more magical, the famed house dressed in all its finery, the gardens superb and and the picnic crowd revelling in the perfect conditions.
There were three singers of interest to Bertelsmann in the cast. Christiane Karg, singing and playing Sandrina superbly, was NS winner in 207, and Rachel Frenkel, a winner in 2011 sang Ramiro with glorious sound and vocal ease, playing the role with great physicality. She is a huge asset to the limited list of fine mezzos around these days. And the immensely gifted Transylvanian baritone Gyula Orendt made a huge amount of the role of Nardo - here is a most promising prospect. He is a member of the Berlin Staatsoper studio and is supported by The Liz Mohn Foundation.
Today I have something completely different though no less important a feature of an English summer. I will be at Lord's for the third day of the England v India Test Match. It promises to be exciting - the third day of these five day matches often proves to be the best.......
We tend to describe July and August as the "Silly Season". In spite of my having worked for decades at Glyndebourne during the summer months, the impression remains that this is the time for leisure and pleasure, so getting hold of people during these months is a struggle. And if they are French or Italian then forget it!!
It is somwhat contagious as I wallow in the unusual warmth of a London July day. I have been spending time yesterday and today completing the choices for my renovated apartment in Battersea. It has moved quite quickly from being a site of destruction to one of at least the promise of construction. I have never done this before and it is pretty scary. But I think that I will end up with something that is me, for better or worse - not full of the arbitrary choices of strangers. I am a very annoying client!
Tomorrow I am back at Glyndebourne for a performance of La finta giardiniera, with a party of colleagues from Gütersloh, Germany, home of the Bertelsmann Foundation. There are two Neue Stimmen winners in the cast so it will be a really nice opportunity for the foundation to see ome of their "children" performing with distinction in a major international festival.
We are in for a hot evening - and maybe some dramatic lightning.....
Glyndebourne dress rehearsals are always fun occasions. They are a chance to catch up with friends and colleagues spanning the generations, a time for memories - and there are so many. And yesterday was a perfect Glyndebourne evening, with the garden looking spectacular, and the restaurant in top form as well!
Verdi has been a thread in the history of Glyndebourne since before WW2 - Macbeth conducted by Fritz Busch and directed by Carl Ebert, designed by Caspar Neher in 1938 was an early success. People forget that from the beginning it was not just a Mozart house. Falstaff has been a perennial since the 1950s and Glyndebourne produced Forza at the Edinburgh Festival in 1955 - but it never made it to the Sussex house. Traviata and Simon Boccanegra were introduced in the 1980s - Hall and Haitink. But they never really stuck - and now there is another attempt at Traviata.
I do not comment really on rehearsals. But I have no doubt that there is a Violetta to look forward to, and a wonderful Verdian in Mark Elder......and much more - wait and see!!
Busy day with my apartment today! And its warm and sunny in London.
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