English baritone Roland Wood, accompanied by Simone Luti, gave a rather unusual, themed, recital n the RBA on Tuesday lunchtime. It was structured around the typical career path of a baritone and was narrated engagingly by Wood with lots of fun being had with the traditional rivalry between tenors (useless wimps who always get the girl) and baritones (evil sociopaths who never do).
So it began with English song; Vaughan Williams’ “The Vagabond”, and proceeded via Schubert; “Liebesbotschaft” (the 19th century’s answer to a dead cell phone battery), to Mozart; “Vedrò mentr’io sospiri and bel canto “Come Paride vezzoso”. The last perhaps being the best possible example of the point made earlier about tenors and baritones. By this point a baritone either has a career and is ready to start singing with a larger orchestra, or they don’t.
Next Wood gave us what might be called a mid-life crisis element about how to survive “on the road”. I can relate to this! This was accompanied by a couple of John Jeffreys songs including a setting of “When I Was One-and-Twenty” much less familiar than the Butterworth version. And so to the bigger orchestra stuff. There was Verdi; “Afin questo corsaro è mio prigione”, Wagner (the dark side?); O du, mein holder Abendstern” and verismo; “Nemico della patria” with a Finzi song thrown in along the way.
It was all nicely performed. Wood is a good vocal actor and a very assured singer and Luti was a sensitive accompanist. He was engaging and sometimes very funny. It was really rather a good idea for a lunchtime recital and it came off well.
The encore was Flanders and Swann’s “Have some Madeira m’dear”; presumably to illustrate the final decrepit episode in the cursus honorum of the lower voice type. Suited him (vocally at least).
You can see Roland Wood in his day job as Scarpia in the COC’s Tosca until the 27th.
Photo credits: Karen E. Reeves