I tell you, it's a world gone mad. Emma Matthews releases a CD, and I, who am usually the one who needs to be convinced about Emma, find myself trying to convince other people that it's fantastic. And getting excited when people tell me they like it. And even referring to her on occasion as "Our Emma". Then I see her as Bellini's Giulietta and for the first time in my life I wholeheartedly and unreservedly adore one of Emma's performances. I love singing and her acting. I stamp my feet and declare her fabulous. And lo and behold, not a single person I've spoken to loved that performance as much as I did. One person (much more her fan than I!) complained about the lack of high notes — so there I was, suddenly defending the beauty of her middle register. More than one person suggest she was a bit on the quiet side, and while I know what they mean, and while this has always been one of my biggest gripes with Emma, I just cannot find fault with her crystalline Giulietta. Maybe it's temporary (I can be fickle as we know) and I'm sure it has a lot to do with mood and repertoire and even the weather, but right now I am Emma's fan. And it's hilarious and strange to find that, after so many years of not quite getting her and feeling myself surrounded by her devotees, when I finally start to make the switch, I seem somehow to be on my own yet again. Typical.
In other, slightly less bewildering news, congratulations to the eight McDonald's Aria finalists. None of whom I predicted. My list of picks for the semi finals was about half right, which I suppose isn't bad, but almost none of my particular favourites have made it to the final stage. Perhaps the quarter and semi finalists (both of which I missed) Changed Everything, or maybe — just as likely — the judges and I were just looking for different things. Such is life. I guess that's why they're the decision makers and not me. Anyway, hearty congratulations to the eight finalists, who are as follows:
John Longmuir (tenor)
Anna Whitehead (soprano)
James Roser (baritone)
Naomi Johns (soprano)
Russell Harcourt (countertenor)
Hayley Sugars (mezzo soprano)
Joanna Foote (soprano)
Alexander Lewis (tenor)
The two reserve finalists are Simone Easthope and David Parkin.