Jonathan Dove- Nights Not Spent Alone
Earlier this year, I had the great honour of receiving three brand new songs, written especially for me, by one of my favourite composers, Jonathan Dove. When I first started on the BBC New Generation Artists scheme, I had written a fan letter to Jonathan, gushing about how much I adored his songs, and telling him that I hoped to record some of them during my time on the NGA scheme. He very kindly took the time to write back, and we struck up a friendship. So when the BBC offered to commission a new work for me, I jumped at the chance of working with Jonathan. I went to his house in East London, and we had a sing through of all sorts of repertoire so that he could get to know my voice and my range, and we discussed possible texts. Jonathan wanted to write me a cycle which would be useful tome for future recitals, so we talked about recital programmes which I had in the pipeline, including one which I have performed with my mother at the Oxford Lieder Festival- A Woman's Journey. This is a programme of songs which describe the life events of different women, from Schumann's Frau, Debussy's Bilitis, Wolf's Mignon, and many others, punctuated with complementing poetry written by women, read by my mother, the actress Madelaine Newton. I sent Jonathan the list of repertoire for this programme, and he was particularly taken by the idea of setting some of the poems of Edna St Vincent Millay, already a favourite poet of his.
And so Nights Not Spent Alone was born. Fantastic settings of Recuerdo, What Lips My Lips Have Kissed, and I Too Beneath Your Moon, full of smoky nostalgia, melancholic numbness, wit, anger and passion. I was thrilled.
Simon Lepper and I so enjoyed the premiere performance, which we gave at the Cheltenham Festival, in the beautiful Pittville Pump Room. We had some lovely feedback from the audience on the day, and the performance was later broadcast on BBC Radio 3, which you can listen to now.
2015 was a real Jonathan Dove year for me, as just a few weeks before the Nights Not Spent Alone premiere, I had had the huge pleasure of playing the Stewardess in Opera Holland Park's production of Jonathan's hugely successful and wonderful opera, Flight, which had been an unforgettable experience, and a great hit for Holland Park. I am thrilled to say that next year I have a very exciting project lined up with Jonathan, but I am not sure how much I am allowed to reveal at this stage, so I had better stay quiet for the time being...