I must apologise to all my friends and colleagues for my absence from the cyberworld. I really did not think that you would miss me - so it is, in a way, gratifying that I have had so many messages of concern!
I am very much alive and enjoying London and family life and not putting too much pressure on to cram in too much given that from next month onwards until the end of this round of Neue Stimmen in October I will be non stop.
Iain Paterson (Hans Sachs) in ENO Mastersingers
Last night was almost six spectacular hours at ENO's Mastersingers, following a long enjoyable lunch with Matthew Epstein. So it was quite a day - enough to fill a normal week! And the joy of settling down at 5pm for Mastersingers knowing that we would not be done until a little before 11 pm was as great as ever - having heard from all what a superlative show ENO has once again put on. The depth of casting quality was as exceptional as it usually is with this fine company - there was star quality in the smallest of roles, a wonderful new David in Nicky Spence, veteran Andrew Shore gloriously accomplished as Beckmesser, reminding me of Olivier in the many cameo roles he gave us at the National Theatre in the early days........a Walther who would shine in the role on any stage on the world - Gwyn Hughes Jones, and Rachel Nicholls a warmly touching sympathetic Eva. And presiding over all this, but never over dominating, the glorious warm persona of Iain Paterson (our Don Giovanni at COT back in 2008).
Richard Jones has come up again and again with superb work for ENO - and this is another triumph of intelligence and execution from a master. And with Edward Gardner in the pit the glow and pace of this marvellous opera was in supreme hands. So all in all an evening to treasure.
ENO has another new production this evening - Purcell's Indian Queen. I hope to be there next week.
One other thing this week was the excellent Hong Kong Philharmonic at the Cadogan Hall on Tuesday evening. Michael MacLeod, former General Director of Glimmerglass, has been in charge in Hong Kong for the last four years, and it was a great pleasure to see him for this, the first concert of a European tour. The excellent Chinese violinist Ning Feng, a graduate of London's Royal Academy of Music, gave us the Beethoven concerto, and Prokofiev's 5th symphony showed of the virtuosity of this orchestra and its particularly outstanding strong sections. Jaap van Zweden is the orchestra's music director - his considerable strengths are know to the Dallas audience and of course we got know him in Chicago. He is a force of nature!
It is a horrible wet day here in London. I am staying in and catching up for the time being.........