29 Jul ‘A blissful evening of songs’ with Felicity Lott
Cambridge Critique reviews concert by Dame Felicity Lott and Jason Carr
I have no idea what life is like on Clouds 1 to 8. But if you ask me about Cloud 9, I can tell you all about it, I was on there last night. It was a concert by Dame Felicity Lott, a blissful evening of songs from the operettas and musicals by one of the world’s legendary sopranos. On the impressive stage of the Peter Hall Arts Centre, Lott came bounding on with her pianist Jason Carr. From the very start we knew we were in for a wonderful evening. Dame F greeted us all like old friends, beaming a genuinely warm smile with nothing of the decorative Diva quality one might expect from such a star. Her casual attire – silver jacket and trousers heralded the informal atmosphere she created which helped us love the songs she sang and her own personality even more. She also created a rather lovely relationship with Carr who is a pianist of the highest quality.
Lott began by reminiscing about her early days in opera under the direction of Peter Hall himself. Her first piece was a jolly and coquettish aria by Offenbach, ‘Ah! Que J’aime les Militaires!’ As with each of her songs, she sings beautifully and acts like a National Theatre performer with total conviction and pair of sparkling eyes. Next up (and to my utter delight as G&S fan) came something she first sang fifty years ago.‘The Sun Whose Rays’ from ‘The Mikado’ with lyrics by W.S. Gilbert is a piece flowing with a rich current of finely polished words such as ‘effulgent’ and a gorgeously romantic melody by Arthur Sullivan. Her phrasing and good old-fashioned pinpoint articulation set the musical bar high.
There is real understanding and electricity between Carr and Lott – he following every tiny nuance of her performance. But he was also allowed to shine in two stunning solos – Addison’s grandiose tribute to Rachmaninoff, ‘The Warsaw Concerto’ and the ballet music, ‘Slaughter of Fifth Avenue’ by Richard Rodgers.