Archive Autumn 2011

Autumn 2011 was amazing. Not least because our recording with Opera Rara of Rossini’s Ermione won the Gramophone Award for 2011 in the opera category. This is Opera Rara’s first Gramophone Award – and mine. Thrilling.

I gave beautiful concerts with John Tomlinson and the Philharmonia Orchestra conducting repertoire I am hardly ever allowed to: the final scene from Die Walküre, Sach’s Fliedermonolog from Die Meistersinger and the Prelude to the same opera. John also demonstrated his mastery of other styles, with his incomparable Leporello and Banco. He is truly a great artist, and a wonderful man. We appeared at the Windsor Festival and in the Philharmonia’s series in Leicester a couple of days later. At Leicester, I gave a pre-performance interview. There were hundreds of delightfully engaged people there. One audience member asked me if there was anything I would refuse to conduct, and when I said any opera by Gluck, there was a noticeable murmur of approval…

With some of the same programme and the same great orchestra, John and Carmen Giannattasio and I opened the redesigned and refurbished Marlowe Theatre at Canterbury. It has been improved beyond recognition: it needed to be – the acoustic was dryer than a telephone-box before. The building is very striking and the auditorium beautiful and comfortable. A huge success. The Earl of Wessex cut the ribbon…and was genuinely amusing. Carmen was a huge hit.

Immediately after the concerts, I decamped to Geneva to conduct my first ballet evening, at the Grand Théâtre. I was apprehensive, but I loved it. New productions of PetrushkaSpectre de la Rose and Les Sylphides. Great choreographers and dancers. And above all the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, who played everything beautifully, not least Petrushka. I felt the benign shade of Ernest Ansermet at my shoulder… The dancers were very musical and adaptable. Altogether it was an extremely happy experience.

Then into the studio in London to record Donizetti’s Caterina Cornaro, with which I had had such a success at the Concertgebouw last year. Carmen Giannattasio again, Colin Lee and Troy Cook headed one of the best casts for a recording I have ever put together. This was the first recording Opera Rara had made with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. They were in great form, and I think really enjoyed losing their Donizetti virginity.

2012 brings new challenges: I shall be at my writing desk again, making a new translation of Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor for Stanley Hall Opera. A recording of Entartete Musik by Schulhoff and others with the English Chamber Orchestra. Concerts with exciting repertoire, new to me: Vaughan Williams Dona nobis pacem among other works. And of course Garsington, and another new departure: Offenbach’s La Périchole.