At last, the BBC Proms 2010 programme is announced. This is my summary for July, there's another on August0-September., and one on Proms Customs, too. Also, coming up, extensive coverage of whole season ! Year after year, the same format, hopelessly predictable. But it's a routine that works. Why change what isn't broken? Planning for an audience of millions, all over the world, isn't easy and it's horrendously difficult to pack so much into one comprehensive series. The really big surprise this year is the sheer quality of the programming.
Of course the season starts with spectacular, and you don't get more spectacular than Mahler 8th. Having heard it at the Royal Albert Hall before, I can assure you that it's the perfect venue. Not so sure with Bělohlávek, though. Much as I love his work, Mahler isn't really his thing. But who cares, this will be a blockbuster.The First Night of The Proms (July 16) is a huge social celebration, and Mahler these days is a fashion statement.
Opera always features in the Proms, even though the stage is small. This year's Wagner must is Meistersinger day - study day and performance together,, and Bryn Terfel, too! And if this isn't enough, next day, it's Verdi Simon Boccanegra with Placido Domingo, Joseph Calleja, Marina Poplavskaya and more. (read my review of the ROH performance HERE)
This first week is SERIOUSLY HOT. There will be bloodthirsty fights in the queues and the touts will be out in force flogging tickets at hyper-inflated prices. But wow, will it ever be a knockout first week. Thank goodness the opera houses of the world take summer breaks. Everyone, internationally, will be glued to the radio and internet.broadcasts. You bet there'll be TV coverage, too.
This year's all day composer is Beethoven on 21st July - no symphonies til later, piano works first. But again, who cares, when we get pianists of the calibre of Paul Lewis and Maria João Pires.? On 27th, though, Beethoven symphonies 1 and 5 plus the Violin Concerto in D major, with Hilary Hahn, Paavo Jarvi and the Deutsch Kammer-philharmonie, Bremen.
Luckily, British composer day this year features living composers and some of the best, too. Simon Holt's A Table of Noises gets its London premiere on 26th July, and on 28th, Oliver Knussen conducts the BBCSO in Birtwistle, Colin Matthews and Luke Bedford's Outblaze the Sky. The BBC is supported by taxpayers, but in return, the Proms gives British music such exceptional coverage that the payback is huge. These are important composers, and the world needs to know. For those who need British to mean Victorian, there's Hubert Parry Symphony no 5 which is pretty good. And of course TWO Dr Who Proms days this year.
And that's just the first few weeks in July - two more months coming up next. Looks like £400 will be a minimum outlay. This is one of the best Proms seasons in recent memory for quality. The anti-BBC crowd will be gnashing their teeth in sour rage this year because the Proms are so good. Nothing drives those Alberichs crazier than when the BBC delivers well.
The bad news this year is the booking fee. 2%, of total cost plus extra fees. Many people spend £300-400 for the season which means a whopping £7 on top of an already significant expense. The arena is not an option for many, so it's certainly not a realistic alternative. Poor folks, the disabled, etc just got to realize power lies with money. But perhaps we should be grateful, though. If Rupert Murdoch and his cronies get their way, there'll be no BBC anyway.
PLEASE also see Proms in August and September. Subscribe or bookmark this site if you like reading about the Proms. Each year, I write about 40 or more Proms and hopefully in an original, non-superficial way. So if you want to join the part , please listen - live, online and on the radio and remember Classical-Iconoclast.