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Michael Chance's Festive Favourites

Here is an hour of music to help you wrap, stuff, peel, ice, baste, decorate, or, if all those fiendishly challenging tasks are done and dusted, simply to scintillate. The choices are, yes, a bit random, but a keen eye might spot some connections. All our productions next summer are here in some form, and, as a bonus, a couple of tasters for 2024.

Our summer jazz evening, for instance, is devoted to Duke Ellington, and here he is jazzing up Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker. We have rousing dances from Orfeo ed Euridice and Dido and Aeneas, which form our Double Bill; the scene from Così fan tutte when the two young men appear for the first time in disguise, confounding their fiancées; and the closing moment of The Queen of Spades with its moving final chorus.

Interspersed between these operatic morsels is a variety of seasonal music, some on the cheesy side, and to balance, some more devotional. One personal connection is track number 2, a Christmas choral spine-tingler from John Tavener featuring a rousing tenor solo, which I first heard sung by our Ferrando in Così, Alessandro Fisher, when he was a teenager, at his school carol service.

Track 1 comes from The Sixteen with whom we are collaborating for the second time for Orfeo and Dido. Those of you who came to our Christmas party in Winchester will have heard Track 12 – the ‘butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth’ Santa Baby. Eartha Kitt sings it here, disarmingly, and a few tracks later, Edith Piaf sings her idiosyncratic Christmas song. Nat King Cole wraps things up, as only he can, The Comedian Harmonists frolic in a goose stable, and the Italian Quartetto Cetra give us the speediest close-harmony in the west.

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