Per­form­ing Arts

Ge­of­frey Smith looks for­ward to the mu­si­cal plenty of Au­gust

Country Life Every Week - - Contents - Edited by Jane Watkins

Ge­of­frey Smith sam­ples the rich feast of Au­gust mu­sic

ITHINK of Au­gust as a fes­ti­val, a mu­si­cal feast of­fer­ing rich pick­ings for ev­ery taste, with va­ri­ety and plenty go­ing hand in hand. Com­mu­ni­ties large and small host events in premises of all sorts—churches, beaches —in a range of gen­res as in­clu­sive as the lo­ca­tions them­selves.

Giv­ing the lead is this year’s BBC Proms—fit­tingly, as that great in­sti­tu­tion has al­ways played a key role in es­tab­lish­ing what the coun­try re­gards as ap­pro­pri­ate in our mu­si­cal cul­ture. Thus, Proms Di­rec­tor David Pickard’s de­ci­sion to take the Proms out of the Royal Al­bert Hall, in his ‘Proms At’ se­quence of four con­certs, will en­cour­age the dif­fer­ent ways mu­sic can be pre­sented and con­sumed.

What’s par­tic­u­larly pleas­ing about the ‘Proms At’ ini­tia­tive is Mr Pickard’s ju­di­cious pair­ing of venue and reper­toire. The first con­cert, last week­end, took place in the hand­somely dec­o­rated Ge­or­gian in­te­rior of the Chapel at the Old Royal Naval Col­lege in Green­wich, ideal for Rossini’s pi­ous but play­ful Pe­tite messe solen­nelle with David Hill and the BBC Singers.

This Satur­day, Au­gust 13, finds a pro­gramme of Restora­tion set­tings from Shake­speare in the can­dlelit in­ti­macy of the Sam Wana­maker Play­house in Shake­speare’s Globe, per­formed by Jonathan Co­hen’s Ar­can­gelo. Then, the con­tem­po­rary scene has its turn, first amid the gritty charm of the Round­house at Cam­den on Au­gust 20, where the Lon­don Sin­foni­etta un­der An­drew Gourlay will play works by Birtwistle and Ligeti, plus a world pre­miere by David Sawer.

Fi­nally, Septem­ber 3 sees the much-touted con­cert at the Bold Ten­den­cies Multi-storey Car Park in Peck­ham, a prop­erly ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment for the Min­i­mal­ist art of Steve Re­ich, de­liv­ered by Christo­pher Stark and his Mul­tiS­tory Orches­tra (0845 401 5040; www.bbc.co.uk/proms).

New scenes, new au­di­ences, va­ri­ety, ex­cite­ment and qual­ity —what more could you ask from a fes­ti­val? Well, the thrill of a new star swim­ming into your ken, per­haps, a per­son­al­ity in­spir­ing keen an­tic­i­pa­tion with a mix­ture of tal­ent and nov­elty. Which is why there’s no hot­ter ticket at the Royal Al­bert Hall this sum­mer than the Proms de­but of Mirga Grazinyte-tyla, newly ap­pointed Mu­sic Di­rec­tor of the City of Birm­ing­ham Sym­phony Orches­tra (CBSO). Just 29, the diminu­tive Lithua­nian will con­duct her en­sem­ble in Prom 55 on Au­gust 27, rid­ing waves of praise and en­thu­si­asm from her col­leagues.

The well-se­lected pro­gramme of­fers scope for the full range of her abil­i­ties—from Mozart’s ef­fer­ves­cent over­ture to The Magic Flute and the pre­miere of Hans Abra­ham­sen’s Shake­spearean ex­trav­a­ganza let me tell you, fea­tur­ing so­prano Bar­bara Han­ni­gan, to the fate­ful thun­der of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Sym­phony. There’s ev­ery chance a star will be born and, if you want to wit­ness the launch of Miss Grazinyte-tyla’s ca­reer on her own turf, she and the CBSO will give the same con­cert the evening be­fore at Birm­ing­ham’s Sym­phony Hall (0121–780 3333; http:// cbso.co.uk).

Mean­while, the bea­con of Au­gust fes­tiv­ity shines as bright as ever in Ed­in­burgh, where the In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val (to Au­gust 29, 0131– 473 2000; www.eif.co. uk) teems with mu­si­cal bounty: em­i­nent soloists in­clude Rus­sia’s new star pi­anist Daniil Tri­fonov, who dis­plays his vir­tu­os­ity in recital, con­certo and cham­ber mu­sic, and Sir An­to­nio Pap­pano’s Orches­tra dell’ac­cademia Nazionale di Santa Ce­cilia and the Rot­ter­dam Phil­har­monic un­der Yan­nick Nézet-séguin con­vey the riches of the sym­phonic reper­toire.

Top­ping and tail­ing the Ed­in­burgh ex­pe­ri­ence is a pair of op­er­atic clas­sics: Bellini’s Norma, in a Salzburg Fes­ti­val pro­duc­tion show­cas­ing the leg­endary mezzo Ce­cilia Bar­toli, and Mozart’s Così fan tutte, from the Fes­ti­val d’aix-en-provence.

In a cu­ri­ous co­in­ci­dence, as the fes­tive mo­men­tum of Au­gust surges into the new mu­si­cal sea­son of Septem­ber, Ed­in­burgh’s op­er­atic show­pieces fore­shadow the com­ing sched­ule at the Royal Opera House (020–7304 4000; www.roh.org.uk). On Septem­ber 12 (un­til Oc­to­ber 8), Covent Gar­den re­turns with a new pro­duc­tion of Norma, fol­lowed from the 22nd to Oc­to­ber 19 by a new Così fan tutte, plus a re­vival of Rossini’s Il bar­bi­ere di Siviglia (Septem­ber 13– Oc­to­ber 11).

Un­for­tu­nately, the opera house’s orig­i­nal in­ten­tion for Norma has not gone ac­cord­ing to plan: Bellini’s mas­ter­piece was in­tended as a ve­hi­cle for su­per diva Anna Ne­tre­bko, who be­lat­edly de­cided the part didn’t suit her

voice and with­drew. The good news, how­ever, is that she has been re­placed by ris­ing star Sonya Yoncheva. In turn, the new pro­duc­tion of Così fan tutte, by Jan Philipp Gloger, will arouse spe­cial in­ter­est, as it su­per­sedes the well-loved ‘Ar­mani’ stag­ing by Jonathan Miller.

ENO (020–7845 9300; www. eno.org) be­gins anew with a much­needed new stag­ing of Mozart’s Don Gio­vanni (Septem­ber 30– Oc­to­ber 26). The di­rec­tor is the in­no­va­tive Richard Jones, a man with a taste for bright colours and dra­matic zest—very much in the fes­tive spirit.

Sir An­to­nio Pap­pano leads the Orches­tra del­lõac­cademia Nazionale di Santa Ce­cilia to Ed­in­burgh

New star: Mirga Grazinyte-tyla

Hot: Così fan tutte comes to Ed­in­burgh from Aix-en-provence

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