I left the beautiful island of Sark yesterday. It has been my home for the last week and what a remarkable week it’s been. An Island’s school (children from 4-15) singing Mozart at the top of their lungs, a masterclass with Guernsey Ladies College and an Opera Gala at the Island’s Hall which ended with a standing ovation all made me feel very proud indeed. So within 3 days most of the islanders of Sark were touched by the beauty of opera.
I was keen from the offset that our inaugural opera festival should involve an international cast and so that’s what we did. Two Aussies; soprano Jassy Husk and tenor Chris Diffey, New Zealand Mezzo soprano Claire Filer, an Anglo Greek soprano Danae Eleni Palikaropoulos, English Mezzo Yvonne Howard, our orchestra the dynamo Liz Rowe and myself the baritone.
Chris wasn’t meant to be our tenor originally. You see in true operatic fashion and just 48 hours before curtain up our tenor pulled out. So with my many contacts to hand I managed to find the annoyingly handsome Chris Diffey. The theme of last minute dilemmas continued. Jassy Husk was flying in from Singapore but her flight was delayed by 3 hours so she missed her connection onto Guernsey. So phone and visa card in hand we start ringing around to find another flight for our diva and within an hour another prayer had been answered.
When I arrived on the dark sky island last weekend the ticket sales and enthusiasm for the opera festival seemed subdued to say the least. I now know that being a small island there’s no real rush to get anything done. But once trilling was heard across the island, enthusiasm, support and love arrived in bucket loads from the island folk and the remarkable friends and fans that travelled hundreds of miles to join me and my colleagues. So by our first event tickets were sold and as we peddled along singing an aria here and there you could feel the enthusiasm building.
Even the weather was perfect and from the moment we arrived we were met with warm clear blue skies to closing perfect glorious sunsets. Each day has been busy with interviews as well as the projects and concerts in hand and I must admit that by the end of our gala last night I was shattered and more than ready for bed. I wasn’t one to be a party pooper though so I and the rest of our wonderful cast were whisked off to Stocks hotel for a farewell supper hosted by future Seigneur Christopher Beaumont. He’s a true gentleman and a friend who I admire greatly. The supper was sensational, the company a delight and we talked and drank way into Sunday morning.
It was on Sunday morning that my luck ran out ….. as it did for most of the cast!!! But more next week.
This article was originally published in the Carmarthen Journal in Mark’s weekly column for the paper.