20 October, 2011

Confessions of a Chorus Member - John Anderton

For over 40 years I have had the privilege of singing in the Edinburgh Festival Chorus and performing with such distinguished soloists as Janet Baker, Placido Domingo, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Luciano Pavarotti, Jessye Norman, Jose Carreras and many others. It is always a great thrill to sing with such distinguished soloists and to have the opportunity of talking with them during breaks in rehearsals.'

My recent experience during the 2011 Edinburgh Festival added a new dimension to this experience. I was enthralled and captivated by Erin Wall at the Thaïs rehearsal in Glasgow and during the performance in the Usher Hall in August 2011.

The chorus had introduced her with...

Thaïs. soeur des Karites         (Thaïs, sister of Karites
Rose d’Alexandrie                  Rose of Alexandria
Belle silencieuse                      Fair and silent
Thaïs, tant désirée                  Thaïs, much desired
Thaïs, Thaïs, Thaïs.                Thaïs, Thaïs, Thaïs) 

Thaïs has decided to ditch poor Nicias and Erin Wall sang her farewell to him with such feeling and purity of sound:

C’est Thaïs, l’idole fragile           (Thaïs, the frail idol
qui vient pour la derière fois       comes for the last time
s’asseoir à la table fleurie.          to sit at your flower strewn table.
Demain, je ne serai pour toi       Tomorrow I shall be for you
plus rien qu’un nom.                   no more than a name.)

This was the first of a number of overwhelming emotional moments in the opera which was an unforgettable experience. Many months or rehearsal had paid off, and what a privilege it was to be on the same stage as Erin Wall, the other soloists, and the RSNO conducted by Sir Andrew Davis.

But my encounter with Erin Wall was not over! Encouraged by Lorraine I ventured to her dressing room and waited for her to sign autographs. Erin graciously allowed a photograph of myself with her and no doubt she will use this to further her career on the operatic stage!

As we said ‘goodbye’ I remembered Thaïs’s moving duet with Athanaël:

Baigne d’eau mes mains et mes lèvres     (Bathe my hands and lips with water
donne ces fruits, donne ces fruits             give me this fruit, give me this fruit
Je t’appartiens, ma vie est à toi.              I belong to you, my life is yours)

A night to remember!

If you want to become part of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus, come join us at our Open Rehearsal on Tuesday 25 October. For more details see here.