Monday 14 March 2005


A weekend of contrasts. To the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, for their new production of Die Walküre; of this, more anon, but suffice it to say that we thoroughly enjoyed the production and were revlieved to find in Lisa Gasteen a Brünnhilde who combined an active, physical stage presence with a large, gleaming voice which soared above the orchestra. Since hearing Rita Hunter as my first live Brunnhilde I have always preferred the role sung by sopranos with large, focussed voices.

Sunday we went to Sadler's Wells to see Harold Rome's Fanny. A Broadway musical, produced originally in 1954, based on the films by Marcel Pagnol. Rome is best known for his revue Pins and Needles; the 25th anniversary recording of which gave a very young Barbra Streisand one of her earliest recorded outings and caused quite a stir. Fanny was produced by The Lost Musicals, who specialise in semi-staged concerts of rare musicals. Their performances are usually a treat and Sunday night was no exception, with a large cast giving a convincing performance of this charming piece, set in the port of Marseille. The plot is not a little sentimental and Rome's style is rather old-fashioned, especially if you consider that Oklahoma dates from the same period. But it is a lovely piece and has a big baritone role, originally written for Ezio Pinza (his only Broadway outing after South Pacific). Can't we now see a full production.

In a curious piece of synchronicity, I am currently reviewing a disc of arias sung by the great American bass Lawrence Tibbett, who followed Pinza into Fanny in 1956.

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