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2005-04-29 Dresden, Gala Concert Hotel Elbflorenz

reviewed by John

 

Hi everyone. Sorry this is later than would normally be the case, but Dresden's quite a journey from my home, and today has been hectic to say the least.

 

I think Anja will be posting her own report, and both she and I shall be arranging for selections from our photographs to be posted within the next couple of days - after she has 'fixed' the problems with some of mine. Also attending from the club were Margaret, Moni, and Ines (the latter seated at a different table to the rest of us).

 

On the bill in addition were Deirdre, and a German singer who lived for a number of years in Seattle, Wa., Kevin Tarte. At the piano for The Celtic Tenors and Deirdre, as always, was the indefatigable David Munroe. The event was actually (I think) a fund-raiser for the final stages of the restoration of Dresden's stunning Frauenkirche; the work is scheduled to be completed later this year. Throughout the evening, we were given short speeches by those closely involved with the management of the exercise, explaining the nature of the restoration and landmark achievements along the way, sometimes augmented by slides or videos. The church itself, like much of the city, is a glorious architectural gem; unfortunately it is not yet possible to see the interior above the basement, but once that does open, it shows all the promise of breathtaking beauty, and is something which I shall want to revisit in the future.

 

The dinner and concert were held in a high glass-roofed shopping precinct adjacent to the Elbflorenz Hotel, and was set out very grandly, and wonderfully illuminated with candelabras on each table, and some spectacular candle arrangements paraded throughout the dining area just before dessert. Given the temporary nature of the venue, the sound system was first rate, and more surprisingly, the lighting effects were spectacular at times. Something I have not seen at a CT performance previously was a large video screen behind them, and I have managed to capture quite a few shots of the gentlemen with the image of the principal performer at the time towering behind them. My camera didn't seem to like many of the lighting effects, and at other times I clearly was suffering from a debilitating shake (it's my age!), but you'll all be happy to know that Anja has a number of decent photographs, which I am fairly sure she will be posting in the next day or so; and between us I think we can give a fairly good idea of the flavour of the evening.

 

For the sartorially inquisitive (word!) again, black suits, and the same classy ties worn at the Royal Albert Hall recently. Deirdre stunned in a yellow and gold gown, and then appeared for the final number in a black trouser suit which, I have to say, looked like a million dollars on her. She is certainly regarded by this 'reporter' as one of the great beauties of current times, but she looked nothing short of drop dead gorgeous on Friday; and she's not just a pretty frock - her innate charm is very disarming. Mr. Munroe scintillated from his piano stool, as Mr. Munroe always does. He gets little mention, but his contribution to each performance should not be underestimated; he was in great form both during and (most especially) after the show, and it will be a long time before I manage to stop laughing at his anecdotes and sparkling repartee.

 

But down to the show. Amid flashing coloured lights and dry ice smoke effects, the gentlemen performers (I daren't use the word 'guys' because of implied threats to my well-being if I do from a certain quarter), they leaped on-stage to pounding piano accompaniment, and launched immediately into the dramatic

 

Granada


Then the pace slowed slightly, and proceeded as follows:
Caledonia (Was ever a song more perfectly suited to its performers? Everything about this song is sheer perfection to me - James' lower register harmonies, and the perfectly suited cadences for each of them for the verses they perform solo)
Wild Rover
You raise me up
Fionnghuala
Fantasia (a close second in my popularity stakes) with Deirdre
Once in a very blue moon, with the boys providing perfect backing harmonies (mmmm - someone here LOVES backing vocals) to Deirdre's lead - this is another number which has rocketed to near the top in my personal popularity stakes - let's hope she includes it on her next album with her usual vocal accompanists
Brindisi (I am guessing here, and just cheated by checking our a previous posting by Heather - I am sure someone cultured will be able to tell me if I got it wrong)
O Sole Mio (with German introduction from James (naturally) and the usual on-stage antics)
You are my heart's desire (with German lyrics, of course).

 

I think that it was during this song that they all left the stage holding a single red rose, which they presented to a suitably embarrassed lady in the audience - see, Heather, your embarrassment could have been significantly worse!

 

The Champagne Chorus from Die Fledermaus Danny Boy
Remember me
By the end of this number, the relatively polite atmosphere which had reigned at the beginning of their set had well and truly vanished, and the audience/diners were screaming for more; they got, finally, the 'concealed entrance' (so to speak) version of Phil the Fluter's Ball.

 

At the conclusion of the evening, The Boys, Deirdre, and Kevin Tarte united on stage (with the same tirelessly indefatigable Mr. Munro, once again seated at his piano stool) for Time to say goodbye. Kevin then made a short speech of thanks in German, and then it was off to the hotel bar where 2 less formally attired tenors (and one jacketless yet still Posh one) circulated and entertained, one at times administering acupressure massage --- because he can. Miss Shannon graced the company with her chic elegance, and Mr. Munro (who is rarely present at these parts of the evenings) continued to scintillate......

 


I know that Anja got home safely - I trust the same can be said for Margaret, Moni, and Ines (Moni especially after her little escapade in Ireland recently - I hope no tractors were needed this time).

 

Best wishes all. Those of you who have a public holiday break from work tomorrow (as I do), enjoy it. Those who don't - sorry!