Tuesday, July 19, 2011

PNAS paper now online

Been incredibly busy so no time to blog.  But the PNAS paper is now online before print. Apart from anything else it means I have an Erdos number of 4 :-)

Saturday, July 09, 2011

RS, Stoppard, Richard III and Janie Dee

Masses happening:
  • Weds to the Royal Society for their Summer reception. Finally met Paul Nurse. Introduced schoolgirl maths prodigy to Bela Bollobas and Michael Atyah also met Konstantin Novoselov and had an interesting discussion about the sate of UK universities and venture capital funding. Saw many old friends including Bob May and Martin Rees.
  • Thurs to Theatre Royal Haymarket for outstanding production of Rosencrantz and Guidenstern are Dead by Trevor Nunn. He explains in the programme notes that he was to have directed the world premiere but it was cancelled due to lack of funds.
  • Fri to Richard III at The Old Vic with Kevin Spacey. Although he is a wonderful actor this was a disappointing production. It's essential that the other characters are credible and that Richard should do charm as well as villany. Also many of the actors spoke poorly and in monotones. The women were good in the 2nd half though.
  • Sat to Cambridge to see younger grandson play in music school concert (from memory on Flute and Piano) and then back to London to see the wonderful Janie Dee in cabaret. She is such a great performer and gets better and better. Great favourites including QWERTYIOP as well as new material I hadn't heard her (or anyone else) sing.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Wonderful day sailing yesterday with Daughter

A wonderful day sailing yesterday with Daughter. Sweet winds, calm and warm sea. Annoying problem with our Gennaker meant we didn't do well in the races, but we peaked at 14mph.  Amazing how having to concentrate on helming a cat in a couple of races clears your mind!

Trying to decide on a suitable illustration for our PNAS paper.  Two new  people starting work today and lots of meetings so v limited blogging.

Also working on project to help disadvantaged children in London get a better education.  May be able to blog about this later.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Peter Grimes

To Covent Garden to see Catherine Wyn-Rogers in Peter Grimes. It's a superb production which really seems to catch the essence of this haunting opera. Ben Heppner really inhabits the title role, and there are fine performances all round including Matthew Best as Swallow, Jonathan Summers as Balstrode, and Rebecca Bottone and Anna Devlin as the two "nices".  Catherine is, as always, terrific - she has some of the best music and her role as the person who doesn't take sides is morally and musically very interesting.  Andrew Davis conducted superbly.

It might have been possible to see Peter Grimes as a simple tale of community hypocricy with the stuffy inhabitants of "the Borough" ganging up on Grimes and unfairly persecuting him: he didn't actually murder either of his apprentices, their deaths were accidents. But clearly he's morally guilty of both of their deaths, forcing his apprentices to work beyond their capacities and putting them, when dead tired, in extremely dangerous situations. As so often in great opera the main characters are far more multi-faceted than one might think.

Afterwards we joined some of Catherine's friends for a drink and a snack, among whom was the charming Elaine Kidd, recently appointed Director of Opera Planning at Scottish Opera. We spoke about the importance of diction in singing - too many singers (esp apparently tenors) get away with making sounds.

I'm delighted to find that Catherine and Toby Spence will be in the ENO Onegin in November - book now - and that Toby and Simon O'Neill will be in the Covent Garden Meistersinger in Dec/Jan, with John Tomlinson no less.  Catherine is making her La Scala debut in Grimes though in the somewhat less attractive role of Mrs Sedley.

PNAS proof have come back - all looking very real!