Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Friday, September 13, 2013

Christine Bovill's Piaf at Theatre Royal Waterford via Edinburgh

‘There is a moment in every childhood when the door to the future opens and for me that moment was hearing Edith Piaf . No other voice spoke to me like hers  did’.  So said Glaswegian chanseuse Christine Bovill on hearing Piaf on a gifted vinyl record in the course of her homage to the Queen of chanson realiste at the Theatre Royal Waterford last night. The format which by all accounts wowed festival goers in Edinburgh was relatively unsophisticated  There was no fancy lighting or projected images just the singer dressed in black , a pianist and the Piaf songbook peppered with spoken biographical and contextual programme notes.  It was interesting that Ms Bovill was converted from detesting the language to being an ardent francophile  through the songs. A singer who doesn't depend merely on beauty of tone even though she has a lovely smoky contralto voice, perfect for jazz.. Clearly passionate about the French texts  she did justice to the dramatic  and poetic elements  in the songs.  She was wonderfully well supported in her task by her  pianist, Michael Roulston . All the best known ones were in the set but also some not so commonly heard ones. I loved the treatment of La Foule with its' heavy vamping bass line. In contrast Mon Dieu was given a simple no frills fervent hymn like treatment.

Michael Roulston
While it would have been lovely to hear such an accomplished pianist on a strung piano, I have to admit the electric model used didn’t sound too bad and generally the amplification was subtle and effective.  I love this repertoire and include several Piaf melodies in my own salon set and thoroughly enjoyed the evening. My only caveat was that she might have used the considerable resource of her accompanist  to add an instrumental interlude here and there as it was quite demanding on her sung and spoken voice.

You can catch this beguiling evening at Limerick Millenium Theatre and the Source Arts Centre in Thurles on 26th and 27th September.  Allez Allez, C'est si bon! 

In the BBC Radio4 series Soul Music,  Christine Bovill talks about the song Je ne Regret Rien. Included in the programme is  Norman Lamont talking about his brush with the legendary song.  Listen here

Venue Notes 
There was a lot of events in the quarter on Thursday evening. The red carpet was out at City Hall for a Ladies fashion event.   In the giant marquee in Lombard St, the Pearly Whites were jumping up and down in their lively party set  again
 to a somewhat subdued midweek audience. We have to say that the audience didn't fill the auditorium but  would  have filled the 50 seater Central Hall .  I note the  this is one of two French Chanson  themed evenings in Waterford this month with Caroline Moreau playing in Garter Lane later. One wonders how much  much liaison there is between the major arts  venues in planning programmes.  A festival atmosphere prevailed in town as marquees and fancy bunting adorned the Mall for the Harvest Festival. I couldn’t understand why this event wasn’t incorporated into the Harvest Festival programme and marketed under that banner. It would seem that there are opportunities for more synergy with regular scheduled events. The event would have lent itself nicely to a French cheese and wine soirée in the foyer for instance .  And is it really so hard to paper the show to create more of an an ambiance.  Where was the Alliance Francaise.  Where were the students of French either  2nd or 3rd level. Isn’t there a third level college in town ?

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