Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Priscilla, Prom 69 and witch burnings

Phillip and I had tickets booked for tonight's Proms concert, and so we decided to meet in town for lunch with a group of other Aussie visitors and expats, including Jonathan Gavin, who had recently completed a run in End of the Rainbow at the Edinburgh Festival. Both Phillip and Jonno have been catching up with colleagues like Helen Dallimore, who has made her West End debut playing Glinda in Wicked. Helen was one of the stars of Phillip's musical The Republic of Myopia. Apparently Simon Gleeson, one of her costars from Myopia is about to make an appearance on Eastenders here. Their services were all too expensive to be used as witches in Spamalot.

After a cheap and cheerful lunch in a Soho trattoria, we traipsed through the National Portrait Gallery and admired the entries in the BP Portrait Award 2006 exhibition.

Phillip had to meet with Stephan Elliott, writer/director of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert about the musical version of same. I think I probably met Stephan years ago in pre-Priscilla days of yore (being nearly exact contemporaries), but today we found ourselves at the same end of a table outside Cafe Boheme talking about Welcome to Woop Woop and .... malamutes - apparently he had one living in ... Bondi! Stephan's latest creative effort is the photo below:

After that it was on to the Albert Hall for Phillip and I. Prom 69's program was performed by the National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Tadaaki Otawa:
  • Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No.1 (soloist: Han-Na Chang)
  • Rakhmaninov: Symphony No.2

We had seats high up in the choir section: generally you need airplane tickets to reach this altitude. Still, the sound wasn't too bad, although there seemed to be some (un)sympathetic resonance between the horns and one of the drums that marred sections of the music.

There was nothing to complain about in Han-Na Chang's performance of the Shostakovich, written for her mentor Mstislav Rostropovich. The Rakhmaninov symphony is quite long at 60minutes, and I think needed some more vigorous shaping from the conductor in the slower sections.

You can tell the people who haven't heard the century-old symphony before, they wake with surprise with the appearance of the melody adapted by Eric Carmen as "Never Gonna Fall In Love Again". He also reworked a tune from Rakhmaninov's Second Piano Concerto for "All By Myself".

On the train I caught glimpses of an announcement - or simply further speculation - about Tony Blair's retirement date. My theory since May has been that he wants to hang around in number 10 until the celebration of the 300 year anniversary of the Act of Union between England & Scotland - and perhaps keep Gordon Brown out of the chair for that rite. The Acts were passed in May 1707, creating the Kingdom of Great Britain and so a Blair announcement on May 31 next year would be fitting.

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