Yesterday saw the 1000th concert in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre (*) since the house opened in 2006. Fittingly it was given by Susan Bullock who sang Brünnhilde in the Canadian premier of the Ring Cycle that christened the new theatre. She was accompanied by Liz Upchurch who has also been around since before the new house existed.
First up, appropriately enough, we got Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder. The five songs were sung with exemplary German diction and attention to text. This was the work of a mature artist using her insight and musicianship to produce a performance that transcended any limitations of a voice that has sung a lot of Brünnhildes and Elektras. It was very fine.
The three Duparc songs that followed; Au pays où se fait la guerre, Chanson triste and Phydilé were sung with equally good French and similar artistry. Oddly, three Quilter songs didn’t register for me in the same way. Maybe it was the texts which I find a bit feeble. Three songs from the rarely heard Britten French folk song settings though were a delight. The middle piece; Il est quelq’un sur terre, was pleasant enough but it was the up tempo and playful Fileuse and Quand j’étais chez mon père that delighted. Not only were they sung with great humour but also with the correct Auvergnat vowel values. Good stuff.
It was a worthy marking of an important anniversary.
(*)I’ve reviewed 132 of them!
Photo credit: Chris Hutcheson