Sunday 29 April 2012

The Buxton Festival 2012 programme was launched with a soiree on Thursday. There was music from mezzo-soprano Belinda Williams and from tenor Richard Berkley-Steele accompanied by Festival Artistic Director, Stephen Barlow.  

Amazingly this year's festival has been put together on a budget of 1.4 million, which seems enormously good value. Though they have supportive local supporters, they are inevitably on the look out for major benefactors and sponsors.

Williams, who is covering Storge and singing in the ensemble at the festival, will be performing in Kassel during 2012/13 singing a number of roles including Dorabella and Kassel. On Thursday she sang one of Storge's arias from Jephtha and some Roger Quilter (whose songs I associate with Janet Baker, whom I heard sing them in the early 80's). Williams was followed by Richard Berkeley-Steele, who is singing roles in the both operas in the double bill at the festival. Rather surprisingly, for a helden-tenor, Berkeley-Steele sang a Noel Coward song, the one I know as 'A bar on the Piccola Marina'. Berkeley-Steele proved to have a delightfully natural way with Coward and some festival director should snap him up to do a Coward recital.

I have very happy memories of 'A bar on the Piccola Marina' as it was a sung regularly by one of the Pink Singers when I directed them in the '80s. It also has some delightful rhymes, of a type which nowadays I associated with Sondheim.

Just for fun, three young sailors from Messina
Bowed low to Mrs. Wentworth-Brewster
Said "Scusi", and abruptly goosed her

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