Saturday 18 September 2010

John Eliot Gardiner's bottom... not a thing of great beauty. Possibly, it was in greater shape than it is now when he first started wearing his trademark bum-freezer Nehru jackets - probably in the early eighties, since that was when they were fashionable enough to be the uniform for the waiters in the Armani café in Knightsbridge. The years, however, have not been kind. And from the vantage point of row eight in the Duomo, last night, the sight of the Eliot Gardiner derrière presented expressively at podium height did not enhance the performance of the Monteverdi Choir.

Which was a thing of extraordinary beauty. The 1610 Monteverdi Vespers, performed impeccably. No - beyond impeccably. Probably one of the best performances I've ever heard of anything. Sigh-makingly good, in parts...and merely excellent in the in-between bits. Deservedly, the audience stood at the end to applaud, and applaud, and applaud. I clapped so long and so hard, my hands actually hurt as a result.

What a pleasure!

But, please - could somebody have a quiet word with Sir John, and persuade him that it's time he graduated to a tail-coat...and did us all a favour!

Tonight's Dinner:

Polpettone of Spinach & Tuna.

Testaroli, with Baccala & smothered Onions.

Nectarine Tarts.

Thursday 16 September 2010

Sara Mingardo...

...was wonderful, last night, as the contralto voice in Pergolesi's Stabat Mater, in the Duomo. Quite, quite stunning. Not only her voice - which was perfect - but also her presence; a Hermione-like stillness gave to her delivery a calm gravitas. Incomparable.

The first of this year's Anima Mundi programme, the Duomo was packed. As ever, for the first concert, the nave was a sea of fluttering programmes, as people fanned themselves against the heat - and I know that by the time we get to the last in the series, several weeks from now, it will be a question of sweaters and coats, and even then the likelihood of cold feet by the end of the evening.

Tonight's Dinner:

Ravioli with fish stuffing

Guinea Fowl in champagne sauce; swiss chard stalks, in butter & garlic.

Crepes, filled with lemon cream; walnut and honey sauce.