July 26th, 2016


Figaro, Figaro, Figaro

When I looked through the Proms season I spotted Rossini's The Barber of Seville and wondered whether Dad would be interested. He said yes, so I braved the Albert Hall website on the day booking opened and got some pretty good seats in the stalls. Since then he decided to make a long weekend of it, and so I took a day's holiday and yesterday morning we met up to go to the RAF Museum in Hendon, making a reasonably early start but enjoying the relative leisure of going out of central London in the morning. There's a lot to take in at the museum and we spent well over half a day there. For me, the highlights (other than Dad's disturbingly accurate identification of many of the planes) were probably a number of Spitfires, a Lancaster, a Vulcan, an Enigma machine, and V1 and V2 rockets. Stepping back to reflect on what all this was for was rather more sobering, though one can still admire the design and engineering. There were also some interesting war art pieces, and a series of recent (c. 2010) portraits of survivors of "the Few". With a bit of time to spare mid-afternoon, we decided to alight the tube back at Mornington Crescent to take in Primrose Hill and the view it offered across central London.

The concert was this year's Proms appearance of Glyndebourne Opera, though in fact the modestly proportioned orchestra was the London Philharmonic with conductor Enrique Mazzola. Apart from the Overture, the Largo al Factotum and Una voce poco fa arias, the music was new to me. Though having seats was obviously more comfortable, it did make me appreciate the acoustic of the Arena, as most of the cast were quite muffled when turned away from us. Björn Burger (Figaro) was an instant hit on entering the stage, proceeding to shave the bust of Sir Henry Wood that tops off the stage, and with Danielle de Niese (Rosina) these two were, for me, clearly the star performers; Alessandro Corbelli (Dr Bartolo) and Janis Kelly (Berta) grew on me as the performance developed. It was a spirited performance, and as is often the case with Glyndebourne, unashamedly played for laughs, with characters frequently offering their asides to the conductor. It was a long concert, but it did just about run to time, though it made for a late return home.