The week in brief

Posted on February 8th, 2013

I’m thinking of making this a regular feature – a quick resume of my movements during and impressions of the week just past:

I checked briefly into the BBC – and the popular Radio 4 programme “Last Word” – to record a reminiscence of Lizbeth Webb who had died in her late 80s and was very much a darling of a bygone age when composers of musical theatre loved to write for sweet lyric soprano voices and musicals like Vivian Ellis’ Bless the Bride could win hearts and minds with a plot about a respectable English woman who runs off with a Frenchman. Quelle horreur! “This is My Lovely Day” made both the show and Lizbeth famous and became one of the most requested songs in BBC history. Lizbeth was once my guest on my Radio 3 show Stage and Screen and her charm was just a whisker short of flirtatious. Sweet lady.

With two big opera openings at ENO (“Traviata”) and the Royal Opera House (“Eugene Onegin”) and a recital by the marvelous Joyce DiDonato at the Barbican on Wednesday, it’s been a week of vocal show and tell. DiDonato’s recital with the splendidly dynamic Il Complesso Borocco and their highly physical, pony-tailed, director Dmitry Sinkovsky was a smorgasbord of Baroque edibles entitled “Drama Queens” (no, really?) designed to show off the American mezzo’s virile and malleable instrument to the full. The were tender morsels it seemed extraordinary we had never heard of – deftly nuanced – and there were the usual hell-hath-no-fury pyrotechnics where DiDonato’s coloratura was immaculate, unaspirated, and all in the same place vocally. Impressive. I enjoyed the Vivian Westwood gown until it acquired its hooped underskirt and Dandini threatened to gate-crash the proceedings in search of that slipper.

I popped in for the dress run of Jerry Herman’s Dear World at the Charing X Theatre in which Broadway’s Betty Buckley promises to be very touching. At last this quirky little show (containing a couple of Herman’s most treasurable ballads) is enjoying a production (actually its UK premiere) commensurate with its intimate nature. I’m hoping to get Buckley for an interview on this site. Watch out for it.

Preparation the next day for a forthcoming audio podcast with Ian Bostridge on, you guessed it, Britten.

Stimulating audience with Sarah Connolly and David McVicar on the forthcoming staging of Charpentier’s Medea at ENO.

Off to enjoy one of my favourite show voices at the Pheasantry, King’s Road tonight – Kerry Ellis.

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