We were in Birmingham last night, for we had tickets to see Katherine Jenkins and Darcy Bussell in Viva La Diva. Before the show we spent a lively half hour watching the antics on the ice rink outside Symphony Hall, hearing such words of wisdom as "It's ok, you can't fall over unless someone bumps into you". This was probably true for the large number of people fearfully keeping hold of the handrail around the edge of the rink!
Symphony Hall was looking rather different from usual and the seats began to fill faster and more comprehensively than any symphony concert we've attended which wasn't surprising since we'd booked our tickets months ago and founds few available even then.
Though we did our best not to dwell on the reviews we'd read (more here and here and here) the show failed to match the standards we'd expected, sadly. Both women are undoubtedly talented though it was only Darcy who really hit the spot with us even though Katherine Jenkins seemed to have had the more difficult journey in the making of the show. She put in a creditable performance as a dancer, even if when the two danced side by side it was clear that she was not quite in the same league as her co-star! Thankfully, some small details (the start of the show) appear to have been changed since the start of the tour - no longer does it open with the pair in pyjamas, but with a warbled delivery of Jenkins' Viva Tonight and a typically stunning performance by Darcy Bussell.
What confounded us most was the vibrato in Jenkin's voice which persisted throughout the evening though was less noticeable in the more upbeat numbers. OK, we're not adoring fans of hers, but hearing her recordings gives no clue that her live performance will be so different. That Symphony Hall has been filled on three consecutive evenings by people paying more than twice the average symphony concert ticket price is vaguely depressing. Seldom more than half full for concerts including world class soloists playing music from the generally conventional repertoire (seldom does the programme include anything more adventurous than Bruckner or Sibelius!) it was remarkable that so many people were prepared to offer a standing ovation last night's performance. Such is the power of the media hype, I guess.