BBC Proms: Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle

BBC Proms: Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle

I was thrilled to make my BBC Proms debut in the stunning setting of the Old Royal Naval Chapel in Greenwich on Saturday 6th August 2016.  David Hill conducted this ‘Proms at…” premier of Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle with the BBC singers which was presented by Sean Rafferty and broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

I was joined by Elizabeth Watts, Soprano, Peter Auty, Tenor and James Platt, Bass.   We were accompanied by Richard Pearce on the harmonium and Iain Farrington on the Piano together with the wonderful singing of the BBC Singers.

The Petite Messe Solennelle was Rossini’s final work.  He called it “The last mortal sin of my old age” and whilst he described it as his Little Solemn Mass it is definitely not short nor solemn!    It is a wonderful piece very much influenced by his operatic solo writing with elaborate choruses and beautiful expressive dramatic music.

It was amazing  to perform in the setting of the Old Royal Naval Chapel (Chapel of St. Peter and Paul)  at Greenwich which was stunning.    The Chapel is a neo-classical masterpiece by James ‘Athenian’ Stuart and William Newton. Featuring a Samuel Green organ and an altarpiece painted by Benjamin West.  It has one of the finest eighteenth century interiors in the UK.

Greenwich is such a fascinating place situated on the banks of the River Thames and known for its maritime history.  It is home to the Cutty Sark, a restored 19th-century ship, the huge National Maritime Museum, and the classical buildings of the Old Royal Naval College, including the  magnificent Painted Hall which is recognised as the greatest piece of decorative painting in England and has been described as ‘the Sistine Chapel of the UK’. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor it was originally intended as a dining hall for the naval pensioners who lived here at the Royal Hospital for Seamen.    Overlooking the lovely Greenwich Park is the also the Royal Observatory the site of the Greenwich meridian line.  The views from here across the Thames of London are amazing.

I had a brilliant time in Greenwich with family and friends.  The week-end was made extra special too by taking a trip along the Thames by boat to Westminster and spending the afternoon on a tour of  Buckingham Palace and seeing the special exhibition of 90 years of style of the Queens wardrobe! Here are some lovely photographs of a very memorable week-end.


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