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Michael White’s classical & jazz news: Don Giovanni; Bartered Bride; Ballo in Maschera; Roderick Williams

29 May, 2020 — By Michael White

Don Giovanni. Photo: Bill Cooper

IT’S only when things disappear that you realise how a big a part they played in your life. And having moaned for years about the chore of getting dressed up and dragging a picnic to Glyndebourne, Garsington, Grange Park and all the other country house operas that get going in late May, I’m sitting here thinking: If only…
But some of them are stepping into the breach by streaming past shows online – and for free, which makes an interesting (and welcome) democratisation of an otherwise rather exclusive experience. Thank you, Covid.

GLYNDEBOURNE, for example, has its most recent production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni available on YouTube from 5pm on Sunday. A sleek, contemporary staging with the elegant Canadian baritone Gerald Finley in the title role, it’s there for only seven days. But all you have to do is type “Glyndebourne Giovanni” into the YouTube search box, sit back, and enjoy – though if you want the full experience and feel like sprawling on a picnic rug in evening dress, it’s OK within government guidelines. Or what’s left of them after the Dominic Cummings scandal.

ALREADY up on YouTube is Garsington’s irrepressibly good-natured Bartered Bride: a fine antidote to lockdown gloom. And less cheerful but a good watch all the same is the much-praised staging of Handel’s Agrippina that played at the Grange in Hampshire in 2018: available for the next few weeks on the company’s website:

AS for London’s own version of the country-house experience, Opera Holland Park, there’s a film of last year’s Verdian thriller, Ballo in Maschera, streaming on YouTube as from Tuesday, which would have been OHP’s opening night had there been a season this year. Excuse me while I scream.

ON the subject of singing, one of the most popular voices on the British concert circuit is a baritone who makes a speciality of English song, the all-round wonderful Roderick Williams. And this Saturday he gives an online recital featuring two timeless classics of the repertoire – Butterworth’s A Shropshire Lad and Vaughan Williams’ Songs of Travel – with pianist Lynn Arnold. It goes out 7pm on the website of the London Mozart Players:
And it’s a performance I can fairly guarantee to be from the heart. As Williams says: “One of the most frustrating things about lockdown for a collaborative musician is not being able to make music with anyone else. So the relief of being able to perform something with (but not too near) Lynn Arnold was quite profound. I’m a singer and I want to sing. If I don’t sing… then what am I?” It’s a good question. And one that flags the desperate need to get our concert halls and opera houses back in business. Soon. Before they disappear into insolvency and permanent collapse.

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