Last Night of the Proms – Sweltering Heat Doesn’t Dampen Audience’s Spirits

The sweltering heat at the Royal Albert Hall failed to dampen the spirits of enthusiastic Prommers, who celebrated the Last Night of the festival in typical style.

With temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius, the audience continued to stomp their feet, applaud, and blow novelty horns throughout the traditional closing event.

Their enthusiasm delighted conductor Marin Alsop, who conducted several impromptu encores.

She later paid tribute to the “incredibly resilient” audience.

Many had queued since early morning to secure one of the Prom tickets for the day, which only offered standing access to the auditorium.

“You have to stand the whole time,” Alsop marveled. “It’s amazing because my feet are killing me, I don’t know about you.”

The audience also gave hearty applause to Alsop as she mentioned that 2023 marked the 10th anniversary of her becoming the first woman to lead the Last Night of the Proms.

“It seems this should be in the Guinness Book of Records,” she said. “And as silly as it sounds, it reminds me of how much work there is still to do to build a fairer world for the next generation.”

BBC Singers Shine There was also support for the BBC Singers, who played a significant role in the concert just months after being threatened with closure as part of cost-cutting measures by the BBC.

They were granted a temporary reprieve in March when an external organization approached the corporation to suggest alternative funding models.

Choir conductor Sofi Jeannin said further details of those discussions were still being finalized – but she was optimistic about the future.

“We’ve been told that the company wants a long life,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Front Row.

“We’ve been reassured that we can continue our program in the future – and we’re planning our centenary concerts for next year.”

Saturday’s concert marked the first full-scale Last Night of the Proms since 2019, with some events restricted by Covid, and last year’s show canceled following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

It opened with Richard Strauss’s adventurous tone poem, Don Juan, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra painting a vivid portrait of the free-spirited Spanish hero.

Sheku Kanneh-Mason then performed Max Bruch’s rich and luxurious Kol Nidrei, emphasizing the warmth and humanity of the ancient Hebrew melody.

And soprano Lise Davidsen captivated the hall with her rich and beautiful voice, as she reprised the aria that propelled her to fame in 2015: Dich, teure halle, from Wagner’s opera Tannhäuser.

In fact, the Norwegian singer conspired to steal the show, with knockout performances of Verdi’s Macbeth and Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, providing ample evidence of why she’s one of opera’s most sought-after stars.

However, she eschewed the Last Night tradition of wearing national costume (“I won’t be a troll or a Viking!” she told the BBC), opting instead for a series of lavish evening gowns.

One deep red dress in particular drew admiration from Radio 3 presenter Georgia Mann, who commented, “I’m surprised she hasn’t knocked over any music stands.”

“This is the biggest, widest, and most opulent gown I’ve ever seen,” added her co-presenter, Petroc Trelawny.

The program also featured several world premieres, including the theme music for the upcoming superhero film, The Marvels.

Kanneh-Mason performed his part of the rhythmically-driven music from stage B in the middle of the auditorium, illuminated by LED bracelets distributed to the audience at the start of the show.

The bands continued to pulse with color as Davidsen performed Heia, heia, in den Bergen (Hey, in the mountains).

Then the two soloists joined forces in the lyrical and elegant Bachianas Brasileiras, before a medley of traditional sea shanties kicked off the beloved audience participation sequence.

Hundreds of flags were waved just in time for Rule, Britannia! and Pomp and Circumstance – with representatives from South Africa, Ireland, the United States, Norway, the EU, and dozens of other countries.

And eagle-eyed viewers spotted BBC Symphony principal flautist Michael Cox bravely negotiating the final round, as a party streamer threatened to clog his instrument’s mouthpiece.

The evening concluded with the first performance of God Save The King at the Proms since 1951, followed by the traditional Auld Lang Syne.

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