An opera blog? Is that really something that anyone will want to read? Is it even something that I feel capable of or keen to write? Well, not every vicar has a thriving parish opera company, talented operatic voices in the congregation and from amongst clergy colleagues, or the same persistent interest in this art form as have I.
It started when my parents took me to see Wigan Gilbert and Sullivan Society's 1977 production of Utopia Limited starring John Cunningham and Marie Collier, both of whom went on to have 'grand' operatic careers - John first largely with ENO, and as a tried and tested comprimario at Covent Garden to this day - Marie at Opera North and Glyndebourne Touring before her marriage to Kim Begley. It didn't matter to me that what I was seeing was one of G&S's least functional collaborations - I just revelled in the complexity, and the excellent musicianship of the outfit.
From there my taste for heavier stuff came from an addiction to the Callas Gobbi recording of Tosca, trips to the Manchester City Library where I read Opera magazine from cover to cover and finally an encounter with The Royal Opera on tour to the newly restored Manchester Palace Theatre.
Over the years I've kept an opera diary off and on where I'd make brief notes of the performance and mark it in the recondite fashion of Oxbridge exams - alpha double minus; gamma triple plus - very rarely did a show earn a straight alpha though there were exceptions: Palestrina at the Garden, Falstaff at the Colly. I’ve occasionally reviewed (not for the 'Bible' - Opera Mag but for its flashier cousin Opera Now) and written about opera in The Church Times. Whilst working in St Albans I even contributed a course to the Cathedral’s study centre pretentiously entitled 'Light at the Opera'.
Tricia Ninian and her team excite me; they have established an excellent tradition and they want to see it grow and develop. Every venture of St Paul's Opera represents a step nearer to an entirely professional approach and product. I would dearly love to contribute to the further flourishing of this project and heartily congratulate Tricia, Helen Simpkiss and others for securing the recent Skipton Building Society’s Grassroots Giving award for next year's Programme.
Does this read as a worthwhile blog? Is it up to the standard set by SPO? I hope so - as, now I've done my first entry, I've got that nagging feeling that I want to do more ...
Jonathan Boardman served as Chaplain at All Saints', Rome from November 1999 until he joined us here at St Paul’s, Clapham in July 2018. Educated at Oxford, Cambridge and the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, he was ordained in Liverpool where he served his curacy. Precentor of St Albans Cathedral between 1993 and 1996, he then served as Team Rector of Catford and Downham, and Rural Dean of East Lewisham, both in South London. Since working in Rome he has developed the role of Senior Tutor at the Anglican Centre, playing a part in the planning and delivery of the Centre's annual academic programme. His book Rome, a Literary and Cultural Companion was published by Signal (Second Edition 2006). He contributes an occasional diary piece to the Church Times. He has also been Archdeacon for Italy and Malta and was made a canon of Malta Cathedral in 2007.