Thursday, 16 June 2016

Madam Butterfly and a packed weekend........

What a hectic last week or so. I have taught a mammoth amount of hours due to our impending exams on top of having a wonderful weekend in London to see Madam Butterfly. My old student Tom Colwell is now covering roles at English National Opera and is as we speak covering Yamadori in Butterfly. Prior to departing for London the week was heavy but fulfilling and I think all my candidates are on the edge of 'ready'. Peaking too soon and becoming slightly bored with the repertoire makes for a less than sparkling performance, but slightly under prepared is equally as worrying, so like a 100 metre runner building to the Olympics one has to reach that moment where there is still spontaneity yet all is secure. They have to do without me for a week now, so I hope the work will continue to be done and polished !

We also welcome H to our happy family is singers. She is a beautiful mezzo soprano who, after Song School decided she would like to pursue a post grad course at conservative and to prepare for that regular lessons in the most beautiful place was the order of the day ! So last Saturday she caught the return leg of the flight upon which Pam and I flew down, so we passed in transit ! She is living close by temporarily but hopes for more permanent accommodation after August. She will bring yet another breath of fresh air to the Paradise singing community.

In London, quite apart from seeing the most moving and beautiful productions of Butterfly we managed to have a packed day. We visited my old alma mater, the Royal Academy of Music which was a lovely treat for Pam, and I could drop off my smart work clothes with Sara so as to save on paying the extortionate £38 per hold bag per journey on my next visit. It was wonderful to catch up with Anthea Dwyer whom I taught at the JRAM and is now teaching there herself, and Ciara Burrows ( cannot remember the married name !) another old pupil who is now teaching there. Both of these girls are very close to my heart, both very fine singers and have chosen to teach - the legacy goes on - which makes me so proud ! Even more touching was the huge welcome hugs which I got !

After that we cabbed to St Martin in the Fields where we met up with Pam's sister and had one of The Crypt Cafe's most delicious lunches. They popped over the road to the Portrait Gallery to see a new exhibition whilst I rested my now aching legs in the beautiful church in Trafalger Square and thoroughly enjoyed a rehearsal with the London Concertante who were playing a concert in the evening in the church. The Bach Violin Concerto in A minor was exquisite, and as a musician myself I almost enjoy the stops and starts more than a complete performance !

The Anthony Minghella production of Butterfly is breathtaking. I wondered if the impact would be as great the second time around. I need not have worried, the colour, the sparse and spacious set, the peacock beauty of the costumes and the mystical emotional roller coaster from the puppeteers was enough to break the heart, when you add in the lush score and the beautiful singing - most of which was very good indeed, it becomes unbearable. Watch the short clip on the ENO website which gives a tiny taste of the overall effect. Puccini style needs such freedom and lyrical legato, combined with the ability to rise and peak at moments of great emotion. I often find that watching opera live can disappoint me, I hear the faults more than the virtues of the singers, a somewhat sad by product of my job, but the tenor Pinkerton was magnificent, the baritones were gruff enough but still had beauty in their voices, and Butterfly was initially a little light and edgy for my taste until she came into her own and showed that it was in the full vocal blast her sound filled out and rang with total support and commitment. It was worth the wait !

We ate with Tom afterwards, and bearing in mind Pam and I had been on the road since 3am, we staggered back to the train, which was held up (Grrrrr) and finally at past midnight,  a shuttle bus back to our Gatwick hotel. Shattered, I think we both fell into bed having opted to miss breakfast and simply sleep longer then eat at the lovely No 1 Lounge at the North Terminal......

A brilliant weekend.

Four teachers - what a joy !

Pam and Tom outside ENO - Butterfly awning above their heads



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