Fewer people sick today, which was good. Let's just do this class by class, shall we?
National Song: 21 years & over - Only three singers, but goodness me they were magnificent. The adjudicator was likewise impressed - the three were separated by only one mark each. Not surprising at all.
20th Century Art Song: 21 years & over - Just three withdrawals, but one of them broke my heart. However. For the most part we had lovely singing, but I have to admit to being an irredeemable philistine and say that a number of the songs just plain didn't appeal to me. Not necessarily anything to do with the singers - many of whom were excellent, though a number suffered from phrasing and diction issues.
Music Theatre - This is the first time I've ever stayed to watch the Music Theatre class, and I enjoyed myself! The best thing about it perhaps was that it gave singers room to find something which really truly suited their voices, because musical theatre encompasses such a range of styles. Sometimes in, say, the art song classes, there are singers clearly not entirely happily in the style required of them; here they could be themselves. They could also move around and act, which many did, to great effect - though in truth I thought the most powerful performances came from those who remained relatively still.
Lieder 21 years & over - Always one of my very favourite classes, and this time it began with one of my all time favourite Lieder, Strauss' 'Zueignung' - followed immediately by another favourite, 'Gretchen am Spinnrade' - both given simply gorgeous performances. The remainder of the class was a matter of coming down to earth for me, but - barring one or two rather wooden and uncommunicative performances - excellent nevertheless.
17th or 18th Century English Song (Excluding Oratorio) - Or as our emcee, the inimitable Honor McKellar, described it, a Purcell festival - nine out of 14 competitors sang songs by Purcell. But I'm not complaining, I love Purcell to pieces. There was only one repeat - two singers chose 'Thrice happy lovers' from The Fairy Queen. I have Yvonne on DVD singing this so I'm not qualified to pass judgment on any other version. Sorry. Actually, for all the gorgeousness of the music, Purcell and otherwise, this class really ought to have been sung rather better than it was. There were some (very) high points, to be sure, but I felt that only two or three singers had really grasped the style and the energy of this music; not to mention the technical aspects - the floridity of the music is a great part of its appeal, so those melismatic passages and those ornaments really do need to be mastered and emerge confidently. Interesting to see Semele's 'O sleep' given as a straight, oh-bring-back-my-lover-to-me song; it's always seemed like rather an R16 kind of aria to me. (Her next aria's even worse of course - "With fond desiring/With bliss expiring/Panting/Fainting/If this be Love, not you alone/But Love and I are one." Oh my..)
20th Century Art Song: 18 & under 21 years - Not wonderful, but there was some lovely singing, certainly. But as in its 21 & over counterpart, diction and phrasing weren't always as good as they should have been. And on a note of personal taste - less Quilter! He's fine, I suppose...I like Love's Philosophy. But I'm not really a huge Quilter fan, unless it's being sung by an (the) Utter Goddess.
Cleveland Award - I like this one. Entrants present a recital programme of three items, rather than just one song. There's a test song (this year's were particularly, well, testing) and then two own choices. I haven't been naming names so far because I though it in slightly better taste to wait until the whole thing's over - not that I'm going to say anything very negative even then - but since this one's a competition in its own right, more or less, I will name a couple. Fiona Henry's first placing was no surprise, her 'Rêve d'amour' was delightful and she sang the hell out of the test song too. 'Der Nussbaum' was a success too - helped perhaps by the fact that Fiona worked on this during her masterclass session with Grace Bumbry. As for me, I had my heart set on Claire Barton for first - a good thing she came second or I'd be a very angry person. Sigh... I'm such a Claire Barton fan. Forget the test song, which was lovely but not, I thought, a particularly appealing song. Give Me Handel. 'Or la tromba in suon festante' from Rinaldo was sheer brilliance, and 'Someone is Sending Me Flowers' was hilarious (I've heard Claire sing this several times and still I crack up). Gorgeous gorgeous voice and such warm, communicative singing...bravissima. All other entrants were excellent too. Brigitte Heuser gave us a superb 'Les roses d'Ispahan'; Michael Gray's 'Tristezza' was lovely and oh-so-Italian; and Matt Landreth gave what I thought was the best rendition (the judge disagreed) of the men's test song, Michael Head's 'The Dreaming Lake' - though he's perhaps slightly less suited to the frankly silly 'Just another Rumba'.
Which brings us to a close for day two. As I said, I'm missing tomorrow's classes, much to my disappointment. I especially wish I could see the 21 & over 17th or 18 century aria class, which, on paper at least, looks like sheer bliss. And the ODT Aria competition preliminaries - I'll just have to hope and pray that those I particularly want to hear make it to the final. Congratulations to all who have sung (and won) so far, best of luck to those singing tomorrow. Looking forward to Sunday!