Wednesday, 16 February 2011

La Stupenda remembered

The Thanksgiving service for Dame Joan Sutherland took place at Westminster Abbey yesterday and a gathering of the great and good from the world of music seemed a fitting remembrance. Richard Bonynge's reading was very touching and delicate and it was appropriate to have the orchestra of the ROH, with Pappano conducting, providing the pre service music and accompaniment. I still think there ought to have been a ritzy send off concert for her at the house itself but the Abbey is grand enough.

I did feel for the singer who performed a couple of lovely pieces; at one point she had to immediately follow on from the playing of a recording of La Stupenda singing Casta Diva. That's pressure but she sang admirably. It was strange to hear the recording floating through the huge Abbey with what must have been a couple of thousand people hushed in contemplation. I was struck by the natural theatricality of it and theatres don't come much bigger or more dramatic than that huge church. The music was impeccably chosen and performed and all in all I think Richard will be immensely pleased with a dignified and majestic service. We look forward to Don Pasquale with him in June.

At the close of the service, it took a while to get out because of the old friends and colleagues one kept bumping into. I was sitting next to David Whelton of the Philharmonia Orchestra, a very nice colleague with whom I had some dealings a few years back. He has one of the more interesting culinary interests; he is a connoisseur of the tomato which being of southern Italian stock I find highly commendable indeed. As if to prove my point, as I write this, a nearby market trader has dropped a mango which has rolled to my feet by my table. A mango is a mango whatever and wherever it is but the tomato is as varied as the peoples of the planet. I raise a glass of passata to men like David Whelton and the mammas like mine who perform miracles with it.

Back in the real world, I have issues to deal French drains and dimmer racks.

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