Claire Barton performed for her final exam tonight at Marama Hall, accompanied by Terence Dennis.
Among her achievements the least important would be her four changes of costume. That certainly gave her a bit of time to breathe between songs.
But her major achievement was performing a challenging programme, with music by Monteverdi and Handel, Rossini, Saint-Saens, Gounod, Stravinsky and Prokofiev. The Stravinsky was one of the rhythmic solos from Oedipus Rex, which I haven’t heard in a long time. I have the music on vinyl, but nothing to play the vinyl on, unfortunately.
Claire and I go back a fair way: I must have begun playing for her when she was still in her early teens (though don’t quote me on that), and played right through until she went to Varsity – a point at which all the good singers abandon us ‘lay accompanists’ and go on to use either fellow students or staff. Which I suppose means we have to go back and work through another bunch of newcomers…!
What I’ve always liked about Claire is her steadfastness, her reliability. She’ll know her music, she’ll perform it well, she’ll be rushing around doing fourteen other things, but she still get the job done on the day.
She was the backbone of Opera Alive for a while, and was always fun to have in the cast. I can remember one particular time when we had a very tall gent in the group – in one of the songs Claire was happy to contrast her small stature against his. Another memory of her is doing a wonderful job on a duet with a girl whose name escapes me at the moment (she was also a longstanding member of Opera Alive). They did, I know him so well, the duet from Chess, and it did it with tremendous feeling.