Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Last Night of the Proms - Rule Joycetannia!

The BBC Last Night of the Proms was last Saturday and I myself was dying to see it so I didn’t even go back home to Santos I just stayed here in São Paulo electrically waiting for it to begin. I was kind of disappointed because I wasn’t able to see it, as I tried to download the things the BBC 2 website told me to I probably got a hell lot of virus in my PC. Then I learned that nobody outside Europe or the UK was able to see it as well. That’s strike number 2 for BBC (strike number one was that ridiculous Hard Talk with Thomas Hampson). But I did have a lovely day!

A few hours before the show began BBC 3 was on with a program in which Joyce was the dj and she’d choose all her favorite songs to play. It was so lovely, many things I didn’t know but I think that the one I liked the most was the Vivaldi concert for a violin played by one of her friends, just remarkable! The program was two hours long but I myself didn’t even feel it, I used up this time to FINALLY end translating my arias in German.

There was an absolute angel who posted the whole event on YouTube, here’s the link to the playlist.

Well, 7:30pm in the UK, 3:30pm here in Brazil and it was time for the BBC Last Night of the Proms. I was so very excited and it is much more fun when you have a whole twiterspere of people watching/listening to the same thing and tweeting about it. This was an extra special night and not just because one of my favorite singers was in the spot light. It was actually because this was the first ever Last Night of the Proms conducted by a woman, the amazing Marin Alsop. I’m not going to talk about the events in their right order because quite frankly I don’t remember.

It featured music that I adored and music I barely knew so it was quite a treat. One thing I was absolutely and thoroughly entertained with was Nigel Kennedy’s performance. He’s a violinist and he performed the Csardas which is a ridiculously fast Hungarian dance. But oh man he did so much more than that. He managed to insert little bits and pieces of all sorts of classical tunes into the dances while playing so fast I couldn’t help but start jumping on my seat. Even Marin wasn’t able to keep a straight face as he goofed around while playing the violin like no other. I had the feeling he was going to toss the violin when it ended because it’d catch on fire or something, the man was on fire and it is absolutely delicious to watch! One more thing that I thought was so cool was that he came on to the stage wearing a football team shirt and drinking a cup of tea, he had just performed in Hyde Park. How awesome is a person like that?

Then he also played Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending. This one was serious and absolutely gorgeous. But for this one he was hardly formal, he was wearing a leather jacket and sporting clothes that resembled a rock star. AWESOME!

We also had a little tribute to Verdi’s 200th birthday the amazing Hebrew slave chorus from Nabucco, Vá Pensiero. If you have already sung this you know how it feels. It’s bigger than you and so incredibly magical. Marin Alsop conducted the overture of Bernstein’s Candide to utter perfection, I loved it how this evening embraced music of all times. I don’t know Candide all that well but when I heard the coloratura of Glitter and be Gay being played by the flutes in the Overture I couldn’t help but sing along!

Joyce talk? Please? Oh you think I forgot about my favorite diva? Well in her first appearance she was sporting a gorgeous vine colored dress and that warm beautiful smile of hers. For her first selection she sang a “Mashup” (as the lady in the radio said) of opera favorites. She started with Massenet’s “Je suis gris” from the opera Cherubin, I love this song, it’s in her Diva Divo cd and it’s absolutely gorgeous. It doesn’t even give you time to think about it, before you know it beautiful Joyce sound is ringing through the hall. Then changing completely the time and feel of things she rocked Handel’s “Ombra Mai Fu” from the opera Xerxes. This is one of those arias that you go, “AWW, I love that, it’s so gorgeous!”, although if you think about it it’s totally creepy because Joyce is playing not even a man, but Xerxes, that weird 3 meter tall king that wanted to destroy everything in the 300 movie. And how he’s in love with a tree because the tree is taller than him while nothing else is, very weird indeed. But, quiet refined and true, Joyce always manages to get to that soft spot in my heart.

Then comes the coloratura fireworks we’ve been waiting so long to listen to. She closed her selection with “Tanti Affetti/Frai padre” from Rossini’s La Donna Del Lago which I found was quite the right choice since she spent her last 3, 4 months singing this role first in London and the in Santa Fe. It was like an explosion of little diamonds as Joyce’s voice went up and down faster and faster. And you could clearly notice that she was very emotional, especially when she said “Tanta felicita” she was literally bursting with happiness and it was such a wonderful thing to watch.

What I found most curious about this evening was that the audience was on fire! I mean, this is not by any means the usual classical music concert audience reaction. It, to me, almost resembled a football game in some moments with screaming, cheering, and a lot of noise! I loved it, but when the music began there was absolute silence, it’s that sense of respect that is totally lacking in my country but I’m not even gonna go there.

Nearing the end of the concert Marin Alsop made a wonderful speech. She first thanked everybody involved, the soloists, the orchestra, the chorus and the audience who was superb. But I really loved it when she said she was incredibly honored to be the first woman to conduct this ceremony but that was also quite shocked that we were in 2013 and there could be “firsts” for women. And I couldn’t agree more, I’m happy that that’s happened and a battle has been won against the ridiculous prejudice there is regarding women who conduct. In my college for instance the best conducting student in the whole school is a girl (who happens to be my friend), my voice teacher is also a conductor and has been conducting the biggest and most important musicals in São Paulo for years. Marin Alsop herself is the head conductor of our most important Orchestra, OSESP.

Moving on on the speech she also thanked her parents who always supported her in her career decisions and even made a little remark about how people were saying just last week that “Girls can’t do that.”. I thought it was wonderful for her to say that, God knows how many people are in need of support and understanding in these “modern” times.

Then she moved on to talking about the power of music and of course my eyes were already filling up with tears. It’s odd how what she said resembles something one of my coolest teachers (her name is Aida, you can’t get any cooler than that right?) always says. The arts is what makes us human beings, without it we are nothing. And music and art cannot be pushed to the margins they have to be front and center. It’s really very moving. My teacher always tells us that we have the power to change people’s lives by touching them in the most extraordinary ways. If we are true to ourselves and to our art form we can accomplish so much not just for ourselves but to anybody who cares to listen.

Back to Joyce talk, she comes back to rip our hearts out with her amazing performance of Over the Rainbow. You know I’ve never been a big fan of The Wizard of Oz or Judy Garland or this song, BUT Joyce made me fall in love with it. As I listened to it live last Saturday tears started falling no stop and before I knew it I was sobbing, yes, SOBBING, making noise. And then I actually watched the video and of course there was much more sobbing happening. I loved it how absolutely emotional she looked when she said “Dreams, really do come true”. And every time I watch the video or hear the song sung by Joyce I cry. So I made a little test with my sis and mom to see if I wasn’t going insane. They both watched the video and cried, so I’m not that weird.

Joyce closed her participation singing the anticipated “Rule Britannia”. Wearing a rather odd looking overdress she rocked the song and put some lovely Joyce coloratura in there. It’s so cool to see everybody singing along to the chorus and getting to their feet with their flags proud and strong. It’s just one of those great moments that you wish you could be there.

I know I didn’t talk about everything that happened but I only talked about my favorites, but you guys can check out the whole performance on YouTube. Now I’m going to have my microwave lunch and head off to college to one more day of incessant studying! Peace everybody!

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