Kathryn Harries - Soprano

Monday, May 22, 2006

A weirdly wonderful day

I was ready for the last few miles into Cardiff which would bring the first leg of the Opera Walk to a close. So off we went, back to Tredegar Country House Park, and I set off down the old road to Cardiff via St Mellons and the longest section of road works known to Welsh motorist.
It was quite funny, really, doing this stretch on foot and caused more than a few raised eyebrows from the workmen I encountered.
I had to dive into some convenient bushes – notice the pun – because when nature calls on a long walk, you certainly have to listen pretty sharply. There were no proper facilities so it was al fresco once more.
Onwards and the weather veered between wet and blustery and really sunny and warm. Hot in fact, which necessitated a lot of taking off and putting on of outer clothing.
Lorna and I met a couple of times but I basically wanted to get to the Millennium Centre as fast as possible so I could get ready for the evening concert which was being managed by WNO.
Jane Jones gave me and the Opera Walk a terrific mention on her show and played a fanfare to welcome me to the capital city of the Land of my fathers; and I am Welsh by blood and certainly by temperament. Ask my kids.
That was the only fanfare I got, I’m sad to say. When I reached the Millennium Centre I was met by – wait for it – three people from WNO.
No one else could be arsed to come out during their lunch break and welcome me. I had asked Jill and Linda to join the throng… and I’m glad I did – it made five people and me! Not to worry; the three people who did meet me had done all the work for the concert and I was delighted to see them. Particularly Wendy Franklin who is an absolute diamond without whom WNO would sink slowly into the Bay…
It’s a very funny thing, but whenever my ego threatens to surface it gets well and truly bashed on its head. So my disappointment at being reminded how thoroughly insignificant I am lasted – ooh, all of two minutes and after a quick photo (on a mobile phone) I went back with Linda to Angela and Gareth’s.
You’ve gotta laugh really. Life is never quite what you expect, is it?
Linda had very kindly booked an appointment with Angela and Gareth’s osteopath as I wanted to be sure that the twinge I was feeling in my left hip was muscular and not something that needed manipulating back into position.
I saw Mari Evans and she pummelled me brilliantly back into shape; she must make fantastic bread and I guarantee that, as a keen golfer, she can hit the ball a hell of a long way. I felt miles better when I’d had my treatment and she reminded me that I must have baths, not showers at the end of a long day’s walking and that I MUST do my stretches before and after. Lesson duly learned.

The evening concert was fantastic; Wendy had done us proud and members of the chorus, orchestra and company sang and played brilliantly. The lack of reception at lunchtime was forgotten because of the quality of performance and the support and goodwill of the unexpectedly large audience.
Donald Maxwell presented in his truly inimitable and articulately funny way; and with his daughter Ailsa editing every single word and giving him a running crit, he should be quite good one day!
Suzanne Murphy sang as wonderfully as ever, as did Linda and Gwyn Hughs Evans. Anthony Negus played the piano for me and it took me back 23 years to my early days with WNO, when he recommended that I cover Kundry in Parsifal for Sir Reginald Goodall. That recommendation took me to the Metropolitan Opera three years later and gave my singing of Wagner a greater depth and understanding than I ever would have achieved otherwise.
We went out for supper at an Italian restaurant to round off a weirdly wonderful day and then it was back home to bed.

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