In the ever unpredictable world of opera there are those, it has to be said, who wear rather less onstage than they do off but the image below – Dame Felicity Lott enjoying a little fantasy poolside service from well-named ENO rising star Duncan Rock – is about as far as the great and the good of opera are prepared to go (for now) in aid of an excellent cause: the Musicians Benevolent Fund.
“Opera Offstage” is the brainchild of gifted young tenor – ENO Harewood Artist, Nicky Spence – who made such an impression in Nico Muhly’s Two Boys and is now being sought for other major roles by major houses. As an ambassador for the charity he persuaded twelve very familiar faces to offer a glimpse into their offstage personas, real or imagined, and in the process of raising money (the 2013 Calendar is a snip at £12) might also raise awareness of what our favourite opera personalities do to unwind from the stress of their angst-ridden characters.
As far as I know Sir John Tomlinson has never moonlighted as Father Christmas (though as casting goes it’s pretty much on the money) but I do recall superstar Renée Fleming telling me that she was on an illustrious “house seat” waiting list for Jerusalem at the Royal Court and didn’t fancy her chances against the likes of Ewan McGregor and Judi Dench. She was obviously much luckier this time around.
Less surprising was Lesley Garrett glamming up courtesy of Trevor Sorbie and Sarah Walker tempering her morning swim with a glass of bubbly.[photograph: Christina Haldane]