It is perhaps not simply the longevity of Rosalind Plowright's career which is remarkable (later in our conversation she talks of John Tomlinson and Ann Murray as contemporaries at college), but that fact that she has had two distinct careers. Initially she came to prominence as a lyrico-spinto soprano whom I can remember seeing at English National Opera as Desdemona in Otello with Charles Craig and Elisabetta in Maria Stuarda with Janet Baker (both captured on disc), and later as Leonora in Il Trovatore at Covent Garden (a role she recorded with Domingo and Giulini). Vocal problems led not to retirement, but to re-training as a mezzo-soprano with a darkly dramatic voice. Her Fricka was very notable in the early performances of Das Rheingold and Die Walkure in Keith Warner's production at Covent Garden. Her lively Twitter feed now pronounces that she specialises in Witched, Bitches, Bags and Hags.
|David and Elizabeth Emanuel |
evening dresses 1988
The new disc is completely her own initiative, planned and organised by Rosalind and her husband and offered as a package to the recording company. The programme is a diverse mix of songs, by Stradella, Brahms, Falla, Tchaikovsky, Weill, Britten, Ernest Kaye, Quilter, Stanford and Bridge, all chosen simply because they are songs that Rosalind loves. She has always worked this way when preparing recital programmes, preferring to chose songs she prefers rather than having a theme. She also comments that at her age she also feels that she also doesn't have to stick to the rules.
She likes the variety and diversity in the songs she has chosen, with every song sounding different. Also, she is performing the programme live at a number of festivals in the Summer and finds that this is the type of programme which goes down well, which people want her to sing.
|Rosalind Plowright and Alan Woodrow, |
Salome, Portland Opera 2013
When I ask if there is likely to be another disc she says that she doubts it, they had such difficulty placing this one. She finds that none of the record companies are interested in recitals unless you are a major star. Though Rosalind and her husband produced the recording themselves, every record company that they approached was uninterested even though it would involve just packaging and distribution.
After the launch she is performing her recital programme at the Buxton Festival and a number of other festivals this summer. But she also talks of the summer as an awkward gap as it is a summer without an opera role. Rosalind has had a a busy two years, but she is a natural stage creature, and finds it wonderful to be on stage and in character. But she admits that it has become harder and that there is an element of 'Rosalind Plowright, is she still around'. Opera Houses are closing and there are many singers vying for the roles, including younger singers who might regarded as too young to sing 'old lady roles'.
|Rosalind Plowright as Klytemnestra |
in Elektra, Madrid 2011
When I ask which roles she would like to sing, if she could pick any role and she comes up with Elektra and Brunnhilde. These are role which Rosalind just might have sung, if she had not concentrated on the big Verdi and Puccini roles.
She regards herself as lucky with her present voice, as it gives her access to her present roles. She finds them great fun, and enjoys not being at the helm. She prefers to take a back seat, and quite likes the old lady roles. Luckily there is still plenty of opportunity to hear as hags, bags and witches. She is currently singing Mrs Sedley in Lyon and will be doing the Countess de Coigny in Andrea Chenier at Covent Garden in December. It is a small-ish role, but she calls it a fun part and is very happy to be sitting next to Jonas Kaufman singing her favourite aria.
La belle Dame sans Merci - Rosalind Plowright (mezzo-soprano) and Philip Mountford (piano)
Romeo Records 7302 Released - 6 May 2014
Elsewhere on this blog:
- Undeservedly neglected: Poulenc Sept Repons de Tenebrea and Stabat Mater - CD Review
- Arias for Farinelli: Ann Hallenberg, Les Talens Lyriques, Christophe Rousset
- London International A Cappella Competition: The Final
- Singing the Oceans Alive
- London International A Cappella Competition: Round 2
- Melvyn Tan and friends at the Yehudi Menuhin School
- On cracking form: Handel's Tamerlano - CD review
- Handel's Israel in Egypt at King's College, Cambridge
- Spare daring: What Becomes by Thomas Larcher - CD review
- Power duo: Robert Invernizzi & Sonia Prina in Pergolesi
- Muhly, McDowall & Jackson: Andrew Griffiths & Londinium
- Important rediscovery: CPE Bach St John Passion
- From the beginning: Caccini's L'Euridice - CD review