So after four days of chaos I am beginning to see the light. And I have a full day of work today - with Mid Wales Opera. This will be a splendid relief from boxes.......
I will be spending the day with their young singers in a group, mock auditions, discussion of audition choices, a review of career realities.....all the kinds of things that I have spent time on at Castleton these last three summers. I hope that they may find it valuable. I am looking forward to meeting them all. Essentially it is the Young Artists Programme members of the cast of the new Carmen that opens their season.
This promises to an exciting event - there is a new translation by Rory Bremner, the show will be directed by Jonathan Miller, and MWO's Artistic Director, Nicholas Cleobury conducts. I will be making the trip to Wales for the opening next month. Meanwhile this will be a lovely way to get back into the flow!
Sorry folks -I have been focussed on pretty well one thing only this last week and more. Moving house is just part of it, the lateness of the building works was the real nightmare! But I am moving anyway tomorrow, and the last wekk - well you all know what it is like!!
Life may get back to normal at some point next week. I had been really sad to miss so much music - London is a paradise for music lovers and I have passed it by.......oh well, there is only so much one can do.
What a mess there seems to be at the Met! My old friend and colleague Robert Rattray is about to take up a position there in succession to beloved Sarah Billinghurst. So it will be interesting to see how he can handle this, poor Robert! So the opera world waits somewhat breathless, not with a complete absence of Schadenfreude it has to be admitted, to see where this is going. But the Met is a hugely valued member of the opera community, so it is pretty sad to see the enactment of 21st century confrontational political attitudes in our sector. I guess we will eventually all get as annoyed and frustrated as Ban Ki-moon.
Meanwhile sunshine blesses London, specifically my home "village" of Parsons Green. I spent a peaceful half hour or more this afternoon relaxing out there, and reducing my blood pressure to a healthy level. I recommend this approach to life!
Parsons Green 4pm Sunday August 3 2014
I had a terrific couple of hours yesterday evening at Tete à Tête's Opera Festival at King's Cross. This weekend the activities are all at Central St Martins in their fabulous newish facilities anchoring the King's Cross development.
Katie Grossett and Daniel Broad popping up with music director James Young and cellist Corentin Chassard
I arrived at 6:15 in time for some refreshment with Sarah Playfair and Bill Bankes-Jones - in good time for the first of the "Pop Ups" of which I managed to squeeze in two before the start of the first of the operas I had chosen - Spirit Harbour.
The pop ups were really remarkably well done and thoroughly enjoyable - thanks to the excellent Katie Grossett and Daniel Broad - an alumnus of European Union Opera 1998. It was so good to see him again. There were two short (10 minutes each?) scenes wittily written and meticulously rehearsed - one about Rain - Precipitation, the other about the mystery of the pursuit of love (I think!).......Will you Fall? Then a third in the interval - about sugar and battenburg - Cakehead. Very topical!
Blog note - there was no program for the Pop Ups so have edited the above to match the reality (I hope!)
The first really meaty piece was the 35 minute long Spirit Harbour. It was distinguished above all by a beautiful and moving central performance by Hannah Partridge - a name to watch. I can find out little about her other than a connection to that great cradle of music Trinity College, Cambridge.
And the second offering was much more of an out-of-the-box strange experience - A l'abri des regards indescrets. This was a particularly disturbing account of seriously dysfunctional and troubling relationship. Somewhat upsetting and unsettling....well that's theatre, that's life!
Go to the King's Place website to see what is happening this weekend and next. It is well worth the trip and a thought provoking evening by any standard. Bill Bankes-Jones must be commended for this absorbing and intriguing series of performances.
I left soon after 9 and sauntered down to King's Cross station through the magnificent Granary Square - lively place as you can see below on this glorious summer evening.
Granary Square, King's Cross 9 pm July 31 2014
The excellent Pizza Express organisation is rightly proud of its Pizzas (Pizze?) It is far and a way the best of the "chain" restaurants with consistent quality wherever you happen to land. And they have had the civilised vision of having excellent entertainment in their top notch Kings Road location - next door to Waterstones and opposite Marks and Spencer.
And it was there that yesterday evening Rebecca Caine and friends provided a splendid meal of Sondheim favorites and rarities. You should all, if you are in London, watch that space for a good inexpensive enjoyable evening out. And it was a joy to see Becky, as glamorous and attention grabbing as ever. She should really be back on the operatic stage more often - meanwhile she is having a whale of a time exploring classic music theatre territory of which, as a veteran of many a Lloyd Webber show, she is a supreme exponent.
Battersea Park 11:30 am July 30 2014
So that was an evening off from the chores of my move. Yesterday morning I was down in Battersea to to sort out a few little questions. But it was really a day for being outside, a really hot one and the park looked terrific. The park itself is a peaceful place and mercifully free of the volume of tourists that one encounters in the central London parks. Yet we are only 5 minutes from Sloane Square just across the Thames.
As is so often the case my contractors are behind schedule and are going to have to get a move on. I am moving in on August 8 so only 9 days to go!
Primrose Mansions, Prince of Wales Drive, from Battersea Park
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!
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