Long Lost Loves (and Grey Suede Gloves)

It was an inspired idea to take the Cabaret Songs composed by William Bolcom and set to lyrics by Arnold Weinstein and give them a frame. It was equally inspired to call on the mezzo soprano Anna Dowsely who has a voice of shimmering gold and silver and pianist Michail Curtain, who played these songs as though he was born to do so, to perform them.

The stage darkened with the light focused solely on the piano. setting the atmosphere. The party was about to begin.

Michael came to the piano stool and began to play. Anna entered dressed in a simple black outfit,(perhaps quieter shoes?)  She had been delegated to organise the wake for her neighbour George.  Apart from  being an overwhelmed and shy hostess she took on the persona of the guests as each arrived.  We now had a stage with one singer, and one pianist, rather than the orchestra and choir requested by George. Instead we were in the presence, through the  clever writing of Constantine Costi and the acting skill of Anna, of a strange collection of people who had known George at various times in his life. 

The songs range from thoughtful, through cynical to world weary. With Michael Curtain wielding his magic at the piano, Anna Dowsley reached into her emotional repertoire with her own form of magic. Numbers such as Can’t Sleep, Lady Luck, Love in the Thirties, Amor, and George.

GEORGE was quite a character::

My friend George…sang the best soprano in town.  he was stabbed ‘in the middle of Un bel vedremo by a stranger who was in the United States Navy.

Then we have cheeky AMOR  with everybody ‘all over town shouting Amor ‘cuz I looked so good’.

 TOOTHBRUSH TIME  has nothing to do with getting children to bed and lots to do with getting rid of an unwelcome guest in the morning.

Bolcom, now an established composer was born in 1938. He has sought to break down the barriers between popular and serious music, and the Cabaret Songs with their incisive lyrics by Arnold Weinstein and music that mirrors these lyrics with variety and finesse are an example of this. Less formal than a song cycle, but with more depth of meaning and complexity than  

songs meant as a pleasant background, to a merry night out, they are in a unique category

Matching the musicianship of Anna and Michael with the  skills of writer and director Constantin Costi, dramaturg Hilary Bell and lighting designer Matthew Marshall culminated in an amazing evening. Paul Kildea, Artistic Director of Musica Viva describes these songs as ‘something more than a song cycle’ and he is right.

Adelaide Town Hall

and Adelaide Festival of Arts

7 March  7.30pm

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