Friday, 23 September 2016

Kathleen Ferrier: Whattalife!

Lucy Stevens in Kathleen Ferrier: Whattalife! - photo Geoff Broadway
Lucy Stevens in Kathleen Ferrier: Whattalife! - photo Geoff Broadway
There is an interesting contrast between Kathleen Ferrier the person and the artist, the one was down to earth, humorous with a streak of Victoria Wood-like directness and self-mockery, the other was deeply sincere, austere and intense in her ability to express profound emotion with alarming directness. But then, we can now really only know her from her surviving letters, and from her recordings, both distant echoes of a real voice. Now a new show at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama is presenting a new staged dramatisation of Ferrier's life, on 30 September 2017, performed as part of the school's Alumni Recital series given in support of the Scholarship's Fund.

Kathleen Ferrier: Whattalife! is written by Lucy Stevens and Chris Baldwin (who also directs), and performed by Stevens with piano accompaniment from Guildhall School alumnus Elizabeth Marcus. The show follows Ferrier's career from her debut in 1940, through her meteoric rise to her early death from breast cancer in 1953. The show uses text from Ferrier's diaries and letters, interspersed with music from Ferrier's repertoire.

Part of Ferrier's mystique as an artist was the way that she combined a certain austerity (she only sang two operatic roles, the title role in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia and Orfeo in Gluck Orfeo ed Eurydice) with a directness which meant that her recordings of folk-songs were enormously popular, and in person she could be great fun. So it is all the more surprising that this is the first such show to treat her life and work in this way. Catch Kathleen Ferrier: Whattalife! at Milton Court concert hall on 30 September.

Full information from the Barbican website.

Whattalife! from Geoff Broadway on Vimeo.

Further ahead the Guildhall School's Alumni Recital Series continues with a ‘Guitar Spectacular’ on 25 October, when the school welcomes back alumni Christina Schorn, Jørgen Skogmo, Erik Høsøien, Matthew Robinson, Jiva Housden and George Tarlton performing music from Baroque to contemporary.

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