Kathryn Harries - Soprano

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A change of career?

I had a radio interview with BBC Radio Leeds at 10.10am, so had to get up at a reasonable hour to gather my wits. I acquitted myself reasonably well and got the message across, but it seems more and more that the people who are going to give money to this venture are actually my fellow musicians, generous philanthropists or people who support me personally (in all my madness). Members of the general public are probably not going to be moved by the plight of theatre people and I’m going to have to lump the fact that I’m not going to make as much money as I’d hoped. Bummer – that’s what I say.
I did some shopping for shampoo and stuff, did an interview for a magazine, and then went back to the flat to sleep for a couple of hours. It’s so SAD. When did I turn into someone who needs an afternoon nap?
Lorna and I met at 4pm and drove to Harewood House just north of Leeds. The Earl and Countess of Harewood had generously allowed us to give a concert in this glorious stately home and, thanks to Emma Hall and her colleagues at Opera North, about seventy seats had been sold at the not inconsiderable price of £37.50 a ticket.
We went in Below Stairs and were met by the super-efficient and charming Sue Paige. She’s in charge of events at Harewood House and she’d organised the room, the piano tuner, the dressing room and the refreshments. Brilliant.
Linda, Tony Kraus, Sarah Beth Briggs, Margaret Howard, Jill Phillips, Johnny Graham Hall and I rehearsed in fits and starts over the next hour and a half. Linda and I also moved the audience seating closer to the stage so neither we nor they would be totally intimidated by the yawning gap between the front row and the stage. We were so adept at doing this that we’re seriously considering a sideways career move into furniture redistribution.
Lord and Lady Harewood came to have a chat with us while we were rehearsing; they didn’t feel up to attending the concert on grounds of antiquity – their words, not mine. Lord Harewood gave me my first job at ENO in 1984, so I was delighted to see him again and say thank you for such a great opportunity.
The concert began shortly after 8pm and, if truth be told, the audience was a reticent one; they didn’t seem to have grasped the concept that they were there to enjoy themselves. Perhaps they were intimidated by the glorious but formal surroundings; maybe they were expecting a serious recital that required a serious response. Whatever, it took a while before they realised we were there to entertain and amuse them as well as sing beautifully. And then they were fantastically enthusiastic and joined in when I sang Vilia and laughed like drains at Linda and Johnny’s antics. When we finished, Judith, the concert organiser, said it was the best concert they’d had there for years. Not bad, eh?
At the end of the evening I signed a T shirt for lovely Tony Kraus; he said he’d wear it for the chorus who are in Aberdeen on tour. It appears that not everyone at Opera North is aware of the Opera Walk, so he’s going to make sure that the word is spread throughout the company.
We all went our separate ways once everything was tidied up and when I finally fell into bed, I was deeply relieved that the evening had been such a great success. A wee curiosity; as Lorna and I drove slowly down the dark driveway towards the main gate of Harewood House, a hare lolloped slowly across the road, paused in the beam of our headlights, and then hopped away into the darkness. Unusual and strangely apt.

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