Ralph Oswick: Scar­latti fever made the news across Europe

Bath Chronicle - - OPINION -

Re­lax ev­ery­one, Christ­mas isn’t can­celled. I’m pleased, nay re­lieved to say that af­ter two weeks of liv­ing on noth­ing but let­tuce leaves and pros­ecco my Lady Mar­garet Christ­mas frock now fits per­fectly and the grande dame will be on hand to de­clare the Wid­combe fes­tiv­i­ties well and truly switched on at the end of the month. I hear a choir and an al fresco carol ser­vice have been added to the list of sea­sonal ac­tiv­i­ties! Mind you, no real panic as I have a bevy of other ex-nat­u­ral The­atre char­ac­ters lurk­ing un­der my bed, in­clud­ing a very fine baroque out­fit in gold bro­cade formerly sported by Domenico Scar­latti no less. Who he you ask? Well, he was the for­got­ten com­poser who made up the trio with Bach and Han­del as be­ing born in the same year, 1685. De­spite nigh on 1,400 per­for­mances of our hit shows about the three mae­stros, poor old Domenico has once again been rel­e­gated to the ob­scu­rity of oc­ca­sional ex­po­sure on Ra­dio 3 in the mid­dle of the night, so I have re­named the char­ac­ter. You’ve heard of Beau Nash and Beau Brum­mel? So please meet Beau Legges, he of the tow­er­ing wig and the pos­i­tively ro­coco gait. I’m sure he could have done a real fancy job of cut­ting the rib­bon at Wid­combe. No­body minds a beau with a few burst­ing but­tons on his tu­nic. And what with my gouty knees, I’m per­fectly fit­ted for the part. Scar­latti was re­vived briefly last year as a meeter and greeter at the 200th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions for Ham­burg’s St Pauli The­atre. The venue is be­ing re­stored so the event was held in the Brahms Suite in the city’s splen­did con­cert hall and although the Scar­latti shows were prob­a­bly the his­toric the­atre’s most suc­cess­ful pro­duc­tions through­out the 80s and 90s, most peo­ple thought I was sup­posed to be flip­ping Brahms. Even though there was a vast and very ugly statue of that par­tic­u­lar fel­low in the mid­dle of the room show­ing him wear­ing a beard. Brahms is de­picted sur­rounded by naked muses of both sexes (!) but when I pointed to one of the peachi­est pairs of mar­ble but­tocks and claimed it was me, it raised nary a flicker of Teu­tonic amuse­ment amongst the as­sem­bled glit­terati. Oh dear, I used to be able to make Ger­mans laugh. At the height of Scar­latti-fever our cast was in­vited to ap­pear at a Euro­vi­sion gala pre­sented in an­other fab­u­lous his­toric venue, the Cuvil­lies The­atre in Mu­nich’s Res­i­denz Palace. The sur­round­ing square was crammed with out­side broad­cast units from as far away as Is­rael and Jor­dan. Due to over­run­ning, the pro­duc­ers kept cut­ting my speech, which pre­ceded the show’s clos­ing ti­tles. See­ing I was miffed, the sound­man who hap­pened to be English whis­pered into my ear­piece ‘It’s live telly mate, just keep talk­ing!’ So I rat­tled on re­gard­less, even though the direc­tor was mak­ing fran­tic cut­ting mo­tions. And thus the evening news through­out Europe and be­yond was de­layed for lit­tle old me!

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