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2006-08-27 a message from Niall

"Powder Her Face" in Bremen


Hello everyone:

I am just back from a month long trip through Eastern Europe.

It was very interesting and often challenging. The diversity between countries that lie so close geographically is most remarkable. And it seems to be a consist law that people are warmer and more welcoming in the places that have yet to be discovered. Mass tourism can have the negative effect of washing out an area and turning it into a commercial machine, thereby removing its heart and soul. And the most memorably picturesque long train ride up through the mountains of the former Yugoslavia will stay with me for a long time.

All that compared with the high-end, expensive and very blandly glamorous Hvar Island, Croatia, which has become the new Monte Carlo or the next Saint Tropez - how ever you want to put it. It was so self-concious and false, we ran from the island as quick as we could. I thought: is Posh no longer posh? Judging by all that, the answer is yes. And thankfully we got off the island before I started getting phone calls from my bank manager!

When I was in Salzburg, I visited the birth place of the great Mozart. (I know Austria is not Eastern Europe but - hey - we wandered a bit off the path!) That town has become 'So Mozart', there is a stab in my heart when I think of how they neglected the great composer in his life time. The fact that he died in an unmarked grave, because his family had no money to bury him, is bitterly ironic compared to the money that is now generated from his association with Salzburg. But, on reflection, maybe it's a good thing there is no grave. At least they aren't selling boxes of chocolates made in the shape of Mozart's tomb.

When I came out of Mozart's house, I checked my emails and got the most wonderful surprise. I have been asked at short notice to stand in for a staged performance of Powder Her Face at the Bremen International Festival. The performance is on 18th September so I fly over next week for an intense week of rehearsals. It also has the wonderful soprano from our EMI Clasics recording, Valdine Anderson. So I am now learning the score again and very enthusiastic about the chance to perform it, not least become of all the dramatic possibilities the part offers. But I must admit I am nervous.

Love to you all and thanks for the birthday messages. To one person in particular I have this to say: "Let them eat cake!!"

Niall xxxxxxxxx

PS: One day I will be able to talk about Albania but only after years of therapy!