Gillian Keith Soprano

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The Melodious Monopod

For those of you following the saga of the sore-footed soprano, let me tell you about some of the latest musical moments from this melodious monopod!  Five weeks on from my operation, I am becoming a true expert at negotiating the world on my crutches – I am a sensational shuffler – an herculean hobbler! (For those who are wondering why I am living life on one foot, please read my previous blog ‘Best Foot Forward’ for the full story).  And although I have spent more than my share of hours on the sofa the past few weeks, I haven’t had time to become a couch potato.

Continuing my performing work whilst my foot heals has forced me to make a few changes, particularly in the way I dress. I’ve discovered that walking sticks and ball gowns don’t go together, and so for my last few concerts I’ve been a dressed-down diva. Image is a big part of the concert experience, both for the audience and the performer. Women have wonderful opportunities for expression through their wardrobe, and I for one choose my outfits very carefully to match venue, repertoire and season.

For last week’s concert I was trilling in trousers, but I compensated by upping the amount of sparkle I wore on top.  I sang the brilliant aria ‘Glitter and be gay’ from Bernstein’s Candide, which shimmers from start to finish, and popping out those high E flats on one leg was no mean feat! Naturally I needed to dazzle them with my voice, and the aria’s fireworks and  laughing chorus are great show-off passages. And with an extra bright necklace, bobbled rings and silvery bracelets, I hope no one noticed the missing sparkly shoes.

The aria came at the end of a duet recital with tenor Tom Randle and pianist Gary Matthewman in the Two Moors Festival in south Devon. Our venue was in the beautiful town of Ashburton, right on the edge of Dartmoor National Park. My only disappointment was that I wasn’t able to enjoy any walks in that glorious countryside, but a long drive through the moors compensated somewhat. The festival was started in 2001 by Penny and John Adie to bring cheer and hope to the area which was badly effected by Foot and Mouth Disease. Going strong all these years later, the festival boasts a diverse and impressive programme of music, literary talks and education projects.

I’ve also been playing the part of film star and screen-writer in recent days. In conjunction with my upcoming CD release I am working on a concert of words and music called “Debussy And His Muse”. This has involved delving into letters, essays and memoirs written by, and about Debussy during his years as a student at the Paris Conservatoire.  Last weekend I made a trailer about the show, along with my colleague Nina Brazier, who is directing the production. Our filmmaker was James Finan, a young and talented actor and producer who worked magic with the lights and camera, and made sure to leave my injured leg out of each shot! Watch this space for news of the finished product.

My next project is to get myself back on two legs, and with my plaster cast due to come off in 5 days, I’m practicing my songs of celebration.