The Diva in the Peacock Blue Badgley Mischka GownSaturday, September 17, 2016
Diva: late 19th century: via Italian from Latin, literally ‘goddess.’
|Nathan Helgeson, Amanda Forsythe, Curtis Daily, Christ Church Cathedral, September 16 2016
This writer (not a writer) but perhaps a photographer has never been a gossip columnist but here I feel I am channeling the best gossip columnist Vancouver ever had in the 80s and 90s, Valerie Gibson who was nurtured for the job by former Vancouver Magazine editor, MalcolmParry. Parry is now the resident gossip columnist of the Vancouver Sun.
My Rosemary and I attended the first Early Music Vancouver concert of the 2016-2017 season, Handel and His Rivals at Christ Church Cathedral. The orchestra was our very own the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and it featured stellar and scrumptious soprano Amanda Forsythe.
|Christ Church Cathedral - September 16, 2016 Photograph Jan Gates & that's Curtis Daily on the right wearing one of his two special concert ties. Photograph Jan Gates
I could be a professional music critic (and you know I am not) and I could rant and rave about the two oboeists Matthew Jennejohn and Curtis Foster (stellar in George Frideric Handel’s Adagio from Concerto Grosso op 3/1 and Adagio from Concerto Grosso op 3/3 ably aided by bassoonist Nathan Helgeson. For someone who was in a high school band and played the alto saxophone (that was me) I can tell you that the oboe rarely sounds as sweet as these two gentlemen made their instruments sound. More often than not an oboe is an unpleasant whining baby.
I could rant and rave about the two natural horn players Andrew Clark and Steve Denroche that sounded so good in Handel’s March in F major, HWV 346 that the whole Pacific Baroque Orchestra strings clapped in enthusiasm.
I could rant and rave about that perfectionist with kid gloves that is Alexander Weimann, the Music Director of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra who somehow manages to get his musicians to do as he demands (ever so gently) and can still play on that lovely little Craig Tomlinson harpsichord.
I could rant and rave about baroque bassist Curtis Daily. Skip my part of the blog here and read Daily's detailed explanation on the instrument he plays.
I could rant and rave about concertmaster and violin soloist Chloe Meyers, she of the neat black wrist warmers.
I would rather write about the apparition that glided on stage in a peacock blue silk gown for Handel’s “Mio caro bene” from his opera Rodelinda. The apparition is New York city-born and Vassar College graduate soprano Amanda Forsythe.
When she stood to face us the first word in my head was, “delicious.”
At home I promptly went to my hardcopy Roget’s International Thesaurus (1977 Edition) and found the following synonyms:
pleasing, delightful, delectable, exquisite, delicate, dainty, juicy, luscious, ambrosial, nectarous, and scrumptious.
|Ainadamar at Tanglewood, 2003,
with Dawn Upshaw (Margarita), Kelley O'Connor (Lorca)
and Amanda Forsythe (Young Margarita)
Forsythe has such a long string of successes and appearances all over the world but her Wikipedia page somehow mysteriously ends at year 2008. And if you think that she is an expert baroque singe, she is a lot more. You might notice that she appeared in the 2003 inaugural performance in Tanglewood of Osvaldo Golijov’s (my fellow Argentine but supremely talented man) opera Ainadamar about Federico García Lorca and his muse Mariana Pineda.
|Alexander Weimann sans kid gloves
My only conclusion after listening to Forsythe sing Handel, as I have never heard before, is that Early Music Vancouver’s Executive & Artistic Director, Matthew White has pull beyond the fact that until recently he was a noted international countertenor. I do not believe that Vancouver could possibly afford to hire the apparition in blue without his pull. But it did and people knew about this as Christ Church was completely full.
As a former photographer I wondered how I could manage to snap a picture of Ms Forsythe without offending the secular concert police. At the interval I went up to the stage (you can do this in the more informal nature that is the Vancouver baroque concert milieu) and I asked my friend and house guest (when he is in Vancouver) bassist Curtis Daily, who is a shy man, if he could ask Forsythe. He told me, “Nat can ask and he will have a better chance.” He introduced me to the fellow Portland musician (both play for the Portland Baroque Orchestra) bassoonist Nathan (Nat) Helgeson. And Curtis has told me repeatedly that the man is the best bassoonist around.
This most handsome young man of about 31, seems to be younger. His clothes are fashionable and in the best of taste. His smile not only convinced me that I would buy a used Chevrolet Vega from him anytime but that he could ask the diva to pose for me.
This he did.
Facing the delightful apparition, she is a bit shorter that I thought and most dainty, I told her I will ask you only two questions. “Where did you get the fabulous blue dress? And the red dress?”
Her answer after a smile that went from one ear to the other was, “I got the blue silk dress from Rent the Runway. It is very expensive it is a Bagley Mischka. The other dress, the satin one is cheap.".
What was interesting is that right after she said, “I got the blue silk dress from Rent the Runway,” she added, “For divas!”
Not only is Amanda Forsythe an exceptional soprano, but she also is has a sense of humour and does not take herself as seriously as most divas must.
The photograph of Forsythe with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra was kindly sent to me upon my request by the official Early Music Vancouver photographer Jan Gates.