Friday, 5 March 2010

Glyndebourne, Wapping

This week, the Knight Crew opera at Glyndebourne. Around 60 young chorus singers, chosen from open auditions, plus half a dozen professional singers. I went on Wednesday, sitting in a £6 stalls seat (which for the summer Glyndebourne Festival would cost £195). It’s a huge achievement. There’ve been articles on this in the Financial Times and Spectator, etc, and there’ll be others, but for now here’s the editor of Gramophone : ‘What a happy surprise. What an inspiring evening . . . Where I had rather expected something energetic and willing but creatively box-ticking, Knight Crew delivered a genuinely superb theatrical experience . . . It goes beyond learning unfamiliar ways of performing, as does the entire show. By any standards, this is moving, entertaining, and really rather riveting. If everyone can take enough time away from school and work, it deserves some kind of tour, even a West End transfer. This or Mamma Mia? No competition.’

Now we have to sell more books off the back of this.

On Thursday Christopher Reid read from The Song of Lunch and A Scattering at the Wapping Project bookshop, a venue at the opposite end of the scale: a greenhouse that can hold an audience of sixteen at a pinch. Adjacent to the massive old pumping-house with its heavy industrial machinery still in place, its underground gallery, its restaurant lit by a hundred candles. It’s one of those rare combinations of place and people that makes wonderful things happen. Queuing to buy a book after the reading, someone turned to me and said, ‘This is one of the best places in London.’ She’s right.

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