Tomorrow is the Last Night of the Proms and the soprano Soloist Elizabeth Watts is auctioning the designer dress she is wearing for the performance. This is a first and a great way to raise funds and awareness for an excellent charity, Streetwise Opera.
I love the Last Night of the Proms; in fact we have a themed Last Night of the Proms entertainment package giving guests to wave their flags and sing some great songs with the orchestra and soloists. It is something that my family have always watched, with my father stating “Summer has ended; it’s The Last Night of the Proms”. In years gone by, before the BBC sold the broadcast rigorously, it was a Quintessentially British affair, with an identical programme of British music and composers in the second half. The ‘Prommers’ had special movements (including bopping up and down to one Hornpipe) and it was permitted to play toy trumpets and burst balloons. The concert featured a British classical singing star, normally female, who would sing “Rule Britannia”, lead “Jerusalem”, “Land of hope and Glory” and the National Anthem. It was a true honour for the singer to be cast in this role.
Part of the fun was seeing what the soloist would wear and I understand the BBC were very generous with the dress allowance! Sarah Walker set the bar very high when she had a ‘Flag Dress’ designed. It looked lovely, then at the end of Rule Britannia, She untied something at the back of the dress to reveal the Union Jack! See the video of the occasion: Sarah Walker’s Flag dress video.
Sarah Walker’s dress perfectly matched the flag waving of the audience – and some of the costumes!
Not all of the soloists wear dresses (the women that is!) Sarah Connolly wore a Nelson costume. She looked and sounded stunning. This was a world class mezzo soprano at her best.
The amazing Gwyneth Jones: a world class Wagnerian soprano in her time, dressed as Brittania. I was there for the concert that night, and confirm that she’d stuck the words to the verses of Rule Britannia onto the shield! But she looked and sounded great.
In 1993, Bryn Terfel – one of the best singers in the world, was the soloist. Naughty boy; he dressed in a Welsh rugby shirt and kicked a rugby ball, in time, during the last chorus of Rule Britannia, to a great cheer!
When he was invited back to sing, he looked somewhat more sober in a Red Dragon inspired jacket!
Everyone’s favourite Wagner soprano now, Susan Bullock looked fantastic in her Britannia costume featuring England’s Red Rose, Wales’s daffodil and Scotland’s Thistle.
So it is inspired that Liz Watts has chosen to focus on the Last Night designer dress again! And it is great that a talented British singer has been invited to sing at this great concert again. Do remember to tune in; it is on BBC 1 tomorrow night and will feature more talent per metre2 than there will be on the entire X Factor series…
To bid for the designer dress to to this page.