An unexpected joy of lockdown is seeing world-class performers in their natural habitats. Habitat is the apposite word for Simon Keenlyside, who read zoology at Cambridge before focusing on his operatic career and who describes a love of nature as “the marrow” of his existence. He looks to music for its validation.
For Wasfi Kani, the unstoppable founder of Grange Park Opera, even a pandemic is only a temporary setback. As soon as she had accepted this summer’s country house opera season at The Theatre in the Woods was lost, she set about mobilising the “pandemicists” and amassing funding for a Found season.
For those suffering withdrawal symptoms, Stay at Home with Crazy Coqs is providing a thrice-weekly fix on YouTube as some of its regular artists post recordings from their homes or reissue previous Crazy Coqs performances.
In his final decade, the Czech nationalist Janacek, found a new love interest and produced five major operas. The most accessible and refreshing is The Cunning Little Vixen (premiered in 1924), with its comic acceptance – like late Shakespeare – of the redemptive power of love and renewal, and its tragic awareness of the forces of raw nature and of life’s disappointments.
One of the main reasons to stay in London in the summer is the Proms. I admit that I am in love with the Royal Albert Hall. There is something about sitting in this circular, wedding cake structure that has an effect on the psyche.