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An Audience with Lesley Garrett

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer specialising mainly in health and education and living in Staffordshire. Find me on Linked In
Britain's most popular soprano delights with song and word
This was pretty much a case of 'This Is Your Life' with songs! An Audience with Lesley Garrett, which provided two hours of rich entertainment at the Lichfield Garrick theatre in Staffordshire, saw the 'Doncaster diva' relate warm and sometimes intimate details of her upbringing, family life and career to her adoring fans. Billed as Britain's most popular soprano, Lesley delivered a delightful evening of song, reminiscences and chat with just talented pianist Anna Tilbrook for company on stage. Throughout the evening, which also included a number of behind-the-scenes stories and anecdotes, Lesley's boundless warmth and enthusiasm shone through with every word she spoke and every note she sang.

Lesley Garrett
Leading soprano Lesley Garrett in an 'audience with..'

Lesley, who has performed equally comfortably during her near 40 year career whether in opera, musicals or in concert, began her story from the start by revealing she was born in a council house to parents who were both railway workers. But, she had musical genes in her blood, partly from her pianist grandfather, while her childhood was filled with the sound of people singing, particularly her mother. Lesley, who has clearly never forgotten her humble but very happy roots in Yorkshire, had her big break when she was given a local authority scholarship to attend the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London. And she has clearly never looked back. As she told the audience in Lichfield: "I've gone from being born on the south Yorkshire coalfield to performing in some of the greatest opera houses in the world." A second defining moment for Lesley came when she got a place at the National Opera studio to study opera, which effectively launched her professional career in 1980. "I'll be celebrating 40 years next year and never been out of work," she added.

Lesley Garrett
The Doncaster Diva was in fine voice

Lesley treated the audience to a varied selection of songs from throughout her career, starting with With A Song In My Heart and continuing on to Dvorak's Songs My Mother Taught Me and the contrasting Where The Bee Sucks, There Lurk I, which reflected her love of natural sciences from childhood days. More classical tunes followed with Tchaikovsky's None, But My Lonely Heart and Handel's Silent Worship, before it was the turn of the musicals, with the lively Habanera from Bizet's Carmen. Further evidence of Lesley's undoubted variety came in the form of Yorkshire folk tune All Around My Hat, the romantic When I Fall In Love, and the delightful Fields of Gold made famous by Sting. There was even a medley from The Sound of Music in which Lesley appeared as the Mother Abbess. After recalling the story of her blind date meeting with her husband-to-be, and anecdotes about fellow singers Michael Ball and Andrea Bocelli, Lesley rounded off a splendid night by closing with Moonriver and I Got Rhythm.

Lichfield Garrick
The Lichfield Garrick theatre

Rating: 4 out of 5

Forthcoming dates

Wed 9th October Saffron Hall, SAFFRON WALDEN
Sat 12th October St Martins Parish Church, BRIGHOUSE
Fri 25th October The Regent Centre, CHRISTCHURCH
Sun 27th October Derby Theatre, DERBY
Thu 31st October Town Hall, LOUGHBOROUGH

Sun 3rd November Drill Hall, LINCOLN
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Why? A chance to see leading soprano Lesley Garrett in action
When: October 4
Phone: 01543 412121
Where: Lichfield Garrick, Castle Dyke, Lichfield WS13 6HR
Cost: Tickets 26.50
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