Cunning Little Vixen cast update

Rebecca Bottone will play the Vixen in Ryedale Festival Opera’s production, in which I play the Fox and the Dog, with Sam Evans as the Forester.  Other cast members include Michael Burke, Tom Herford, Eleanor Greenwood and Helen Bailey.  Joe Austin directs, Simon Kenny designs and Iain Farrington conducts.  Performance dates are 15 and 17 July – see the gig guide for more details and booking information.

As In Waking Dream – Monday 23 May, Opera North, Leeds

I’m delighted to be involved in this project, curated by Cheryl Frances-Hoad. Six new song cycles have been written by poets and composers from the Universities of Leeds and York and will be performed by a group of singers, actors and pianists, including me, Natalie Raybould, Andrew Mackenzie-Wicks and Ian Shaw.

As in waking dream is a thought provoking evening of new music and poetry written in response to Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben (A Womanʼs Life and Love).

New poetry by Adam Strickson, John Whale, Andrew Knight, Jo Brandon, Bethany Layne and Ian Fairley.

New music by Edward Caine, Marcello Messina, Nektarios Rodosthenous, William Finn, Jessica Ward and Dorone Paris.

The performance is in the Howard Assembly Rooms, Opera North, Leeds.

The Aspern Papers – Michael Hurd

I’ll be in Belfast this September to record the role of Miss Tina in Michael Hurd’s opera “The Aspern Papers” based on the novel by Henry James.  George Vass will conduct and the cast also includes Louise Winter and Pippa Goss.

Cunning Little Vixen – July 2011

I’m delighted that I’ll be reunited with my friend Joe Austin, to sing the Fox and the Dog in Janacek’s glorious opera, The Cunning Little Vixen, for the Ryedale Festival.  Joe directed me in Hary Janos for the Festival a couple of years ago and working with him again will be wonderful.  See the performance diary for more information about where and when.

Recital with Lindy Tennent-Brown – 20 March 2011

Somehow Lindy has found time in her crazy schedule to play a short fund-raising recital with me on the evening of Sunday 20 March as one of the “Knitting Concerts” held in All Saints’ Church, Putney Common.

This is a series held each year at All Saints’, at which the audience is encouraged to relax and enjoy the music while doing any other activity that might be compatible with listening. Some people read, some knit, some organise their receipts, children play or draw, and some people simply sit. It’s totally relaxed – the brilliant brainchild of Robert Bridge, a fine pianist himself – and a wonderful opportunity for artists to try out new repertoire in a supportive environment. Hopefully, encouraging the audience to multi-task also means that people are more disposed to come out and support the concerts on an evening that traditionallly is given to preparing for the next week.

We will be performing:

Schubert: An die Musik; Die Forelle
Faure: Aurore, Automne, En Sourdine, Prison, Fleur jetee
Poulenc: Banalites & Quatre Poemes de Guillaume Apollinaire
Quilter: Go, lovely rose, Now sleeps the crimson petal, Love’s Philosophy

Admission to the Knitting Concerts is free and there is a post-concert drink gratis, but there is a retiring collection, which is donated to a nominated charity. The proceeds from our concert will be going to the Wandsworth Refugee Network which is a very worthwhile support service for local refugee families.

The performance is from 7-8pm, at All Saints’ Church, Putney Common, London SW15, on the corner of Lower Common South and Putney Common.

Tokyo Part 3 – Who ate all the animals?

There’s almost no wildlife of any sort, except crows and cicadas.  An occasional cat in the street, some tiny dogs being walked by single men at 6am, the odd sparrow – but i haven’t seen a rat, a lizard or any of the other things one might expect.  Spotted an egret in the park, and some monster carp and terrapins, plus a pair of sea eagles over the bay, but startling lack of fauna.

Did they eat everything?  Clearly they did – i have been offered things that are so newly born that they probably didn’t have time to breathe.  Tokyo is very fond of eels and we have had elvers so tiny they are like baby bean sprouts – eating them just feels wrong, like eely child abuse.  Bags of teeny shrimplets that surely only just made it out of the egg before being scooped up.  All delicious but will there be any left soon?  Even the tuna look suspiciously on the small side, but that’s not stopping them.

Tokyo – Part 2

Things i really don’t love about it: the noise, oh my god, there are speakers on street corners (every corner of the big zebra crossings) blaring i don’t know what public information or radio station or something;  the high pitched street vendors’ calls which go up at the end in a squeaky question and are given endless identical repetitions; the deranged glockenspiel player who has recorded the entire Beatles back catalogue as a lovely series of jingles to be played on train stations while we are waiting, or at which the train is about to arrive if we are already on  it.  The roads looping all over the place, often high up on flyovers going past someone’s bedroom window – Spaghetti Junction doesn’t begin to cover it, it’s mayhem, and yet incredibly orderly, with endless officials waving flashing batons and controlling it all.  The concrete – hardly a tree in   sight, except for a few parks here and there – like Docklands on steroids – because the city is so new, having been earthquaked badly in 1922 and then firebombed to the ground in WW2.  Not much of it left, even the shrines are re-builds, but there is an occasional real ‘old’ house now and then.  it explains why Kyoto and areas outside Tokyo are so valued, becuase there is virtually nothing old here and it may become the next Venice, sinking beneath the weight of its own concrete.

Tokyo Part 1

Tokyo is a seriously bananas city.  Things i love about it:  it’s so efficient it’s like a machine; trains on time, amazing levels of information, signs in English,although few people speak it.   It’s so clean and tidy – no garbage, no graffiti, clean streets, cleaner trains, no dog poo.  This is a seriously obedient society, which can cut both ways but manifests positively in – no mobiles on the trains, no eating/drinking on trains and hardly ever in public at all; olympic quality queueing, including lines painted on the train platform to show you where/how;  they have no real way of saying NO, which has to be a very optimistic way to live;  they are amazingly helpful – people are paid to lurk around on stations and be helpful if you are clearly lost – even if they speak not a word of English they will somehow get us onto the right train.  Courteously and with much bowing.  The food – totally heavenly, i don’t know where to start.  Had a truly great meal a couple of days ago in a total dive with not a single European in sight.  The Onsen – mineral spa baths, which are outdoors, and in which you lie, gazing at the sky, bubbling with goodness and gradually becoming prune-like until it’s time for a beer and a massage. We went to one out of Tokyo and were the only Euros, again.