Even ‘Wild Women’ aren’t immune from the seasonal bugs doing the rounds at the moment, and which always hit singers hardest.
For their ‘Wild Women’ programme, Devon Baroque had engaged leading Baroque exponent, Welsh soprano Elin Manahan Thomas, who unfortunately succumbed to a debilitating ailment, and a replacement had to be arranged at the eleventh hour.
Never easy to manage, this was further compounded by the fact that it involved two back-to-back performances, two deps in the end, and some not-insignificant programme changes.
But the extra rush of adrenaline occasioned by all this actually drove the players to even greater heights, with never a hint of what had transpired over the last twenty-four hours.
Australian soprano Miriam Allan proved an absolutely outstanding replacement, not only in Handel and Vivaldi arias – with her faultless coloratura, impeccable breath control, great tonal and dynamic variety, and overall laid-back delivery – but also in her highly-entertaining characterisations of two earthier Purcell songs.
One distinct bonus of the enforced programme change was a simply electrifying performance of Winter from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons by Artistic Director and lead violinist Persephone Gibbs – so refreshing to be privileged to hear it as probably the composer intended.
In fact Persephone’s sheer love of the music always won through, and it was so rewarding to see the rest of the band respond to this unfailingly, while performing at the very highest level.
PHILIP R BUTTALL
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