There was a change to the programmed cast at last night’s Grand Opera Gala at the Royal Albert Hall.
As Alfie Boe’s still ill, we were treated to a different tenor: John Hudson. From the very start, it was clear that while I hadn’t heard of this replacement, he was definitely going to live up to the expectations I had of Alfie Boe. Despite the heat in the Royal Albert Hall yesterday, Hudson sang beautifully, and added an appropriate sense of mischief and fun to the proceedings.
“I’m going to sing in German,” he warned at one point, clearly aware of England’s terrible World Cup defeat the day before. “Make it quick,” he asked conductor Owain Arwel Hughes, “before they stone me to death!”
But it was a kind, if clammy, audience in the Royal Albert Hall for this evening of opera excerpts. The varied programme, performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Choral Society, Northampton Bach Choir and Daventry Choral Society, included Verdi, Strauss, Puccini, Mozart and Bizet. And old favourites like the Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana and Nessun Dorma were real crowd pleasers.
Soprano Natasha Marsh joined John Hudson as the evening’s other soloist. Another great voice with a cool sense of fun behind her performances, Natasha warned us that she might be booted off stage at any moment by a sharp kick from within. She’s five months’ pregnant. With twins.
“I’m not five months’ pregnant,” came John Hudson’s reply. “I’m just fat.”
It was a fantastic evening with a great orchestra in a wonderful setting. It’s amazing how the Albert Hall is so huge and yet manages to still feel quite intimate at the same time. What a beautiful venue.
And the whole experience made me feel like I really want to head back to the to see a Prom or two this summer…