2013 Last Night of the Proms

There was more than one lark. And what is the world coming to when you just have to mention that we had to wait until 2013 for the first woman to conduct the Last Night of the Proms? Last night’s Last Night made too much of Marin Alsop’s uniqueness. Katie Derham who presented – very nicely – for the BBC, while wrinkling her brow in a manner that will lead to wrinkles later, had to mention it all the time.

And here I am, doing the same. Oops. I found out yesterday was the Last Night and who was conducting, purely by reading the interview with the First Female in my morning paper. Had it been Karajan there would have been less fuss. Actually, maybe not. Dead conductors probably merit media fuss as well. (Which brings me to the brief excitement the Resident IT Consultant and I experienced when Katie announced that Vaughan Williams was entering the stage.)

Proms 2013

You know me. I’m no good with classical music knowledge. So I don’t really know why a counter tenor like Iestyn Davies has to sound like a woman (nor why there was virtually no mention of him in the programme). The Chichester Psalms were nice enough, although not very Leonard Bernstein-y.

They had a headless tuba player, as far as I could see. And even before they showed us what the orchestra and chorus (BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Symphony Chorus) looked like when not wearing their fine clothes (relax, I don’t mean in the nude), I had wondered what they look like out of them. Perfectly normal, is the answer. Loved the Union Jack turban as worn by one member of the chorus.

Nigel ‘No-Adjective’ Kennedy even dressed down in the second half, wearing something footballish (?), while still sporting his sticky-uppy hair. Although, I’m not sure what to call the glorified, torn binbag he wore in the first act, either. Different. That’s what it was. Refreshingly so. As was the tea he brought on stage.

Not sure what Marin Alsop thought as she seemed to be conducting a different piece of music to what Nigel was playing. I kept hoping he’d get on with the Czardas, while Marin probably wondered when – and whether – he’d rejoin her and the orchestra. Caterwauling is what it sonded like. And he stabbed a balloon.

The hit of the evening was surely mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato who seemed to be coming and going all night. Loved the blood red dress in the first half (but the ‘draped flag’ for Rule Britannia was a bit meh) and would like to know how it stayed up. She knew how to play the audience. Flirt a bit. Wiggle your hips. Throw roses. Sing beautifully.

Marin Alsop’s speech was too long and too much about herself. Too serious. (Quite American, that.) But at least we’ve got this First Female business out of the way.

What do they do in Glasgow and Caerphilly when Land of Hope and Glory is on? I understand there are sensibilities to consider, but am curious.

It took a while, but we finally got to Auld Lang Syne. I think I especially enjoy it because it shows how well an audience can sing when there is neither orchestra nor choir helping out. And no rehearsing beforehand.

(For anyone who doesn’t feel there’s enough Last Night of the Proms here, this weblink should provide what you need.)

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