Friday, November 4, 2011

Musical men about town

By David Angus, Music Director

Well, tonight’s the opening of Macbeth–very exciting–and we are all winding ourselves up for a high energy performance. The Dress Rehearsal was a big success and the invited audiences were thrilled with it. First Night is always quite a nervous affair, wondering if everything will go right and if the audience will like it, but having such a good Dress Rehearsal sets us up well and means that the nervous excitement should all be positive.

Meanwhile, life goes on, and we are already getting going with the next project–The Lighthouse--in the background. We have been extremely lucky that the composer, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, happens to be in the USA for a short tour at the moment, and is spending nearly 3 days in Boston. He lives on a remote island off the north of Scotland and is 77 years old, so he doesn’t travel to the US very often any more. He will be attending Macbeth tonight, but I spent most of yesterday with him.

We began with a visit to the JFK Memorial Library, where we will perform his Lighthouse, and we showed him around and explained why we had chosen that location. I interviewed him (you will be able to see this on our website) and we caught up with each others' news.  We had worked together many years ago at Glyndebourne Opera and had also crossed paths at the Scottish Chamber Orchestra a few times. We also both studied at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, and both began our careers as music teachers in schools, so we have a lot of common background.
The view of Boston from Smith Hall, our venue for The Lighthouse
 Sir Peter, or “Max” as we all know him, is a remarkably sprightly man with a very alert mind, and he is highly articulate, so talking with him is very stimulating. I found out many new things about the opera, including several very spooky coincidences which you will hear about on the interview. 

We visited the museum while we were there and were taken back in time to our childhood memories by all the history and artifacts of that time. It was a real nostalgia trip. When JFK was assassinated I was an 8-year-old at boarding school in Cambridge, and Max was studying over here at Princeton. We both remembered clearly hearing the awful news.

We travelled back into Boston for a lovely lunch of Scallops at Legal Seafoods, where the waiter turned out to be a Musicology Major from Harvard, who was thrilled to meet Sir Peter–what a coincidence!
The trip ended with a visit to see the set for the Lighthouse under construction in Cambridge, and to have the model explained. Everyone is very excited about the whole concept and it is really going to be a very strong show.

We finished the day with a lovely dinner at the home of Esther Nelson, our General and Artistic Director, with some VIP guests and a delicious meal cooked by her husband, Bernd. All in all, a great way to relax before tonight’s big event!


  1. Frankly, the first night performance disappointed. There seemed to be a lack of passion, act 1 was slow and without depth with the actors schlepping around the stage and out of character. This is a powerful story and script and the haunting of Macbeth, the devious nature of a cunning and conniving Lady Macbeth did not emerge. The transformation of the witches did not work, despite their best efforts which lays the blame on the director and not the actors. The staging attempted a more contemporary setting that did not work and i some instances was trite. We expect more from the BLO. I love this play and the opera and left disappointed.

  2. We are sorry that you did not enjoy Macbeth. There have been many patrons who have told us the production and the acting was strong and emotional but we understand that not everyone likes the same approach. BLO puts serious thought and effort into all of its productions and we sincerely hope that you will like the rest of the season. We always appreciate hearing from our patrons and hope to hear more from you in the future.