Michael Broadbent immortalised in comic opera
- Tuesday 12 July 2011
The Lovely Ladies is based on the legendary Decanter columnist’s 50 years of tasting notes, and is showing now at the Buxton Festival in the north of England.
Performed by Opera Unlimited, The Lovely Ladies is described in the programme notes as ‘a delightful divertissement… in which the wines themselves do the singing.’
It tells the story of a group of wines who hear a rumour, on the eve of a Christie’s auction, that their champion Michael Broadbent is to leave the wine trade.
‘Who can entice him to celebrate their virtues once more?’ the programme asks. ‘Pompous, bombastic Bordeaux or urbane, girl-mad Champagne? Chateau d’Yquem knew him first, but who can compete wit the sultry, full-bodied Cotes du Rhone?’
Mas de Daumas Gassac in the Languedoc features as one of the wines, and the great 19th century wine critic George Saintsbury is a deus ex machina who steps in to assure the wines that all is well.
Composer Peter Cowdrey told Decanter.com he fell in love with the wine world when he worked with Steven Spurrier at his wine shop Caves de la Madeleine in Paris in the mid-1980s.
‘When it was first suggested to me that Michael’s tasting notes would work as an opera, I immediately thought, yes, that’s a goer.’
The opera was performed first at Christie’s last year. ‘The evening fizzed and sparkled like the finest Champagne…all-in-all a vintage performance,’ Musical Opinion magazine said in a review.
Michael Broadbent himself, who has written over 400 columns for Decanter, gave a talk at the festival on the same day, attended by 230 people.
‘It was a good thing I did,’ he said. ‘Otherwise nobody would have known who Saintsbury was.’
Broadbent, who describes the opera as ‘a comic romp in the Gilbert and Sullivan tradition’ said he was gratified by the number of Decanter readers in the audience.
Opera critic George Hall told Decanter.com he thought it 'an extremely entertaining piece' and Peter Cowdrey had done 'a very fine job'.
'There's great use of pastiche and parody. It's beautifully managed with delightful staging, and you don't need to be a wine expert to get the jokes.
'I thought it was a very clever little piece altogether and it certainly went down well with the audience.'
Pics: Trevillion Images