In November of 1984, I returned to the New York Metropolitan for a revival of Così fan tutte. The production was originally by Colin Graham but in these performances Graziella Sciutti added her six eggs in her debut as stage director at the Met. The cast was wonderful, with Carol Vaness as Fiordiligi, Ann Murray as Dorabella, Mariella Devia/Julia Hamari as despina, David Holloway as Guglielmo, Cornell MacNeil as Don Alfonso and, of course, myself as Ferrando. The whole lot was beautifully conducted by Jeffrey Tate. (The above picture is from Colin Graham’s production of 1982 with Kiri Te Kanawa, Maria Ewing, Kathleen Battle. James Morris, Donald Gramm and yours truly). Continue reading
Pre-Classical / Classical / Post-Classical
This is just a quick interlude blog to let you all know that I am still alive and writing my blog….there is still more to come!
When I was sixteen and just leaving Secondary School to commence a career at the BBC, I sang with a pop group. We performed covers of well established bands like the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks, Animals and so on, and were did very well. We were called All on Edge and the line up was Chris Cooksey on lead guitar, Gene Hartfield on rhythm guitar, Norman Snell on bass guitar and John Edge on drums. I of course was the front man on vocals. Continue reading
Snip, Schnapps and Simon
It was in 1994, a year after the birth of our son Huw, that my wife and I came to the decision that having more children was not a good idea. After all, I had five of my own (two from a previous marriage) and she had four, three of those being with each other. Our family was complete, two handsome boys, one each end, framing the two beautiful girls in the middle. Edward, Eleanor, Amelia and Huw. Of course, like most families we shortened their names, with the exception of our youngest and they ended up as Ed, Nell, Mimi and Huw. Continue reading
Trial, tribulation and Tosca
It was back in June 1985, when I returned home from the MET tour, that I realised my first marriage was not destined to last. I had been on a serious diet, and by my return to the UK, I had lost 85 pounds in weight. I was being picked up at Gatwick Airport by my wife, who didn’t recognise me, despite having walked past me five or six times before I said hello. Continue reading
PACT, Pretoria and Panic
In the summer of 1977 (I think) I had a contract to sing Count Almaviva in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia for PACT, The Performing Arts Council of Transvaal. (This picture is one of the designs for my costume.) The rehearsals were to take place in Pretoria, followed by six performances and then on to Johannesburg for a further six. I would be away from home for three months.The director of the show, Peter Ebert, was English and was a neighbour of mine in Chailey, Sussex. He was the son of Carl Ebert, one of the founders (together with John Christie and Fritz Busch) of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera. A close friend of mine, the bass Paul Hudson, was also on the team in the role of Basilio.
Toward the end of 1988, I had a contract to sing the title role in a production of La Clemenza di Tito in Catania, Sicily. During that time, Mount Etna erupted, and apparently was bombed to divert a lava flow from consuming a small village. It was very dramatic.
The conductor, Michael Bode, a young German, was very good indeed. However, the stage director was hopeless and I can’t remember his name. He had never directed an opera before, and his only claim to fame was that he was married to a famous Wagnerian Soprano from Eastern Europe. Continue reading
Exploited in Aix
This picture is of me as Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail at Glyndebourne in the summer of 1988. I was in the middle of the run when I started my next contract at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in southern France. This was for the title role in Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito, a new production directed by the Greek film maker Michael Kakoyannis, famous for his film Zorba the Greek. Michael was a truly wonderful director. He saw everything as if through a camera lens, pulling focus to where the important things were going on, thereby not allowing the audience to be distracted by other things happening on stage. It was a really great time to be in Aix, for both the rehearsals and the performances. The whole team became more of a family, and that included the wonderful chorus called The Sixteen.
Santiago, sadness and strife
My Santiago debut took place in 2006 in Otello. I had just completed a run of Alfano’s La Sakuntala, in Rome. I took a flight from Rome to Madrid, where I connected with the flight to Santiago after a four-hour stopover. Thankfully, I was flying Business Class, so was able to get some rest on the plane. I was met at the airport and taken to my hotel, where I was given a note from the theatre, asking me come straightaway to rehearse. My contract said that I was due to start the next day, but I went in and started my rehearsals practically asleep. Continue reading
Pagliacci, props and peril
The picture on the left is yours truly as Canio in Pagliacci. In 1998 (a year or so after my Pagliacci performances in Portland, Oregon) I was invited to Milwaukee in Wisconsin by the conductor Jo Rescigno (the nephew of Nicolo Rescigno with whom I had performed at the Met and in San Francisco) to reprise the role, albeit in a different production with the Florentine Opera Company.
Milwaukee is known as the beer capital of the world, being home to several breweries – Miller and Schlitz to name just two. The world-famous motor cycle manufacturer, Harley Davidson is located there as well. As things turned out, it also appears to be the home of misfortune and near death experiences.
Hamburg, hellhound and hospital
In my previous blog post, I talked about my time in Buenos Aires and the performances at the Teatro Colón of ‘Les Illuminations’, which I illustrated with an excerpt from a radio broadcast I made some time later for the Nord Deutsche Rundfunk in Hamburg, under the baton of Sir Charles Mackerras. My first rehearsal for that performance finished at around 5.00 pm, and we arranged to meet for dinner at the hotel Vier Jahreszeiten at about 9.00 that evening. It was the middle of winter, and snow was falling. I wore thick woollen socks and leather ankle boots, as well as appropriate upper body clothing for the climate. Continue reading