In my last week of September, I experienced some performances of beautiful music.
On Monday I went to the Royal Opera House to watch a performance of La Boheme by Puccini. It was very special to me as I have never seen the production live before and the music is just stunning. I was lucky enough, in August, to purchase a student ticket for the performance. These special student tickets were greatly subsidised and ranged from £1-25. The seats were generously donated by the Bunting Family and Sir Simon Robey and I’m so grateful to them to be able to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity as watching these fabulous operas is so important to our development as students. The production was vivacious and the singers had great chemistry on stage and sublime voices. The set design by Stewart Lang was divine and I remember sitting with my mouth open during the transition of scenery from act 1 (the annex) to act 2 (boutique streets of Paris), which was visible to the audience.
Then on Friday evening after a busy week of making music at the RCM, I went to see Sarah Connelly perform at the Wigmore Hall. The concert was very moving and her beautiful velvety tone was consistent from the first song to the last. It was wonderful as a student of Opera to watch and admire her stamina and artistry guiding the music of the evening. Connelly also wore a fantastic sparkly dress which I particularly enjoyed. After all sparkles on Friday is definitely a must especially now the nights are drawing in.
Then today to bring in the new month, I celebrated my parent’s wedding anniversary with them over FaceTime and then I went to an Escape Room with my brother Matt and our friends Alex and Sarah. We arrived at clueQuest just before 13:00 and there we were ‘locked’ (safely) in a room, that expands as you successfully find more clues. Whilst in the Room you have to solve all the puzzles in a 60-minute countdown. I was able to live out my Nancy Drew fantasy of solving a detective crime story. It was a wonderful experience and very mentally stimulating, perhaps not the most restful Sunday activity. All in all, it was terrifically entertaining and I would definitely go again.
I have had a really fantastic day today which included watching an afternoon performance at the Wigmore Hall, London. It all started yesterday when I saw a tweet bringing to my attention two concerts that were being hosted today at Wigmore Hall for the grand sum of £5.00 each. Now, I did not need to win a ticket, or queue up for ages, or hope that someone would return their own ticket on the day of the performance to get in for this discounted price. I just had to shy away from being a lady and tell them my age 🙂 All because I was under 35, Wigmore Hall have this fantastic program that offers anyone under 35 access to these amazing concerts for only £5.00 so as a Northerner I just had to take advantage of the bargain. For those wonderful people who do not fit into this bracket, I would still urge you to go as the music making in such a beautiful venue was just divine! I am a very lucky lady indeed.
Now, enough about the “good deal,” the concert itself was mesmerising. Toby Spence, tenor (high male voice), and Christopher Glynn, piano, superbly performed the London premiere of ‘The Fair Maid of the Mill.’; a beautiful English translation by Jeremy Sams of the the German cycle ‘Die schöne Müllerin’ by Franz Schubert. This concert was part of the ‘Schubert in English’ Concerts being held at Wigmore Hall. This is an interesting concept for me personally after doing so much research in the last year of my undergraduate study on whether translation works as well in Song as it does in Opera.
The program included an interesting note from the translator in keeping with some of my own research: ‘Opera translation is permissible because Opera is what a story sounds like, whereas the Lied is what poetry sounds like.‘ (2016, Jeremy Sams). However, he continues to discuss ‘that perhaps it is more ubiquitous, because a scene in an opera is actually a story, and similarly so is a song, and it occurred to me that the ingredients of poetry – time , landscape, developing thoughts – are maybe a story also.’ (2016, JeremynSams). So I sat at the beginning of the recital prepared to possibly be persuaded that it could take me to the magical world Schubert had intended for his audience.
And indeed it did! The flow between each piece was seamless, encouraging you to follow the life of the character and how the love that affected his life, grew, then blossomed and (spoiler alert) sadly wilted. The sung English translation helped me to realise some significant symbols, such as the colour green, the water of the mill stream and the obstacle of the hunter. I realised how important these ideas were to the crux of the story and how each affects the Miller, this was backed up by the sweetly interpreted piano playing of Christopher Glynn which highlighted the changes that Schubert created to always keep you on the edge of your seat. Toby Spence, also added to the mood by deciding to wear a slightly informal characterised outfit, of what I imagined to be a slightly fleeced blue jacket with a shirt, and pale beige trousers. It set the mood and housed the character’s soul that he created so wonderfully. It was truly a performance to learn from whilst I am crafting my own interpretation of Song.
I particularly enjoyed how he performed the Interlude, relaxed away from the piano leaning against the wall of the intimate stage area, with his glass of water in his hands to replenish himself between singing verses. It worked wonderfully as it allowed the audience to relax and briefly visit another world before returning back to the Miller’s story.
As I reflect on this performance, I think that the subject of translation will be one that I will be researching, agreeing and disagreeing with my whole life, which in itself excites me, as I realise it is so individual, and I hope that I will be able to try it out in my own performances. Maybe one day I will have the opportunity to perform in a concert series dedicated to the art of translating poetry.
What A Concert !!
I have just come out of my second concert of the day at Wigmore Hall and I thoroughly enjoyed the performance of mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton beautifully accompanied by James Baillieu. I wish I had more time to tell you about it but I have to get home 🙂 Her performance transported me to a place of dreams especially as she concluded with “Never Never Land”