The evening included stories about star-crossed lovers whose fates lay beyond their control. Well, the course of love never did run smooth according to Lysander (to Helena), in Act 1 Scene 1 from A Midsummer Night's Dream in the first reading - read by the fantastic Stewart Arnott. This was followed by music from Henry Purcell "When I am Laid in the Earth" (Dido and Aeneas)sung by mezzo soprano, Krisztina Szabó and Christoph Willibald Gluck's "Che Faro Sensa Euridice" (Orfeo & Euridice) from baritone, Aaron Durand. Durand's Che Faro Sensa Euridice whose singing took me back to my childhood and waking up to my dad (he's a tenor) singing in the early morning while getting breakfast ready for us. Orfeo & Euridice has always been my favourite opera.
From there we moved to a captivating reading from the last chapter of Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, followed by an operatic version of Alfred Noyes, The Highwayman poem with music composed by Dean Burry. I have to admit I hated this musical piece. It just didn't work for me. I found it lost the atmosphere of the poem and the newly composed music too jarring. (I much prefer Loreena McKennitt's contemporary version in all honesty).
After intermission, a reading from Shakespeare's most star crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet (Act 1, scene 5) and Three songs from West Side Story (Sondheim). Strangely, and seemingly impossible, these sounded a lot like Phantom of the Opera - I can't even explain it but they did and I'm not the only one who thought so.
For the finale, the evening closed with a reading from Malory's Morte D'Arthur: The Parting of Lancelot and Guinevere followed by Mahler's Songs of a Wayfarer: Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen. In the program we were provided the German lyrics so we could follow along as well as the English translation even though the song is sung in German. At one point I lost track of where Durand was but with careful listening, I was able to find it again on the page - amazing since I never studied German but if I had I think I would have done very well.
Overall a really great evening out with some fantastic chamber music!