Monday, September 05, 2005

Anne-Sophie von Otter

Bremen has welcomed us, unlike the stingy waxwork Salzurg festival, with open arms and generous toasts in large crystal glasses (as opposed to plastic cups) of decent wine (as opposed to dirt cheap prosecco from Lidl) and it feels good to have our work acknowledged.

Our concert in Die Glocke on Saturday was explosive both on stage and in the audience: A triathlon of arias, serenades and symphonies; three delicious concerts between l'heure de l'apero and the pumpkin hour.There were standing ovations and cheers. I would say it was all for us, but of course we had to have a star and who more twinkling than Anne-Sophie von Otter?

The grande Swedish dame of song, now fifty, walked in as if she were going to teach us Alexander Technique not sing Gluck - all tall poise clothed in funky chic and sneakers - and when she sang 'Quel nouveau ciel' I melted into the first dawn and didn't really re-emerge into the night till she floated off after the concert sporting only slightly posher footwear, a lime green and orange flounce over white jeans and clutching pink roses.

Meeting our two Swedish sopranos from Mitridate by the river I asked them how it had felt to see her walk into our rehearsal the previous day. Was it like seeing Yo Yo or Steven or Pablo suddenly sitting there?

"Nah" they replied in thick clad Fjordlish "we have both worked with her and she is so supportive."

And in that moment it clicked: Anne-Sophie changed the course of it all. Rather than the Grande Dame she is more like the Women's Lib of song. Before her it was all blubber and wobble and frills. It was she who paired the Diva down, allowed her to be tall and slim and pregnant, to wear comfortable and offbeat clothes and, above all, to stop all that bloody vibrato and sing in time; it was she who made it possible to be a singer and a human being, but above all a singing musician.

This star shines on through her proteges and, sitting in the pit in a revamped electricity warehouse in Bremen's docks together with two generations of Swedish songstresses , I knew that, due to her, opera would never be the same again.

(Thank God, as I had had enough of holding my arm up at the end of a note for three hours thinking "Get a bloody move on" whilst the diva lurched between two pitches to her ego's content.)


Blogger Zinnia Cyclamen said...

I love your views on divas, they always make me laugh. I'm going to Bremen in Nov, is it nice? (NB: you might want to enable the blogger read-the-word thingy to prevent spam commenting like the one above, it's on the blogger home page.)

9:20 PM  
Anonymous Julian said...

The administration has taken steps - will move it all over to Wordpress or maybe textpattern when the corporation gets a moment

9:47 PM  
Blogger Dale said...

I was laughing so much I had to read this aloud to Martha, who is now laughing too.

4:03 PM  

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