“Pink Champagne!” at Foxearth Village Hall

– 13 February 2010
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A Sparkling Gala of Romantic Operetta Songs for St. Valentine’s Eve, led by Ian McMillan (Director of the London Operetta and former director of the Carl Rosa Opera), with Winnie Soutter (formerly from the Scottish National Opera) and Quentin Poole (director of music at the Purcell school of Music), all performing as High IQ and Friends. Held in aid of the Liston and Borley Churches*.

It’s amazing how grand the Foxearth Village Hall can feel when filled up with people in finery. Even though some of the jewels were not even paste, but mere plastic that flickered with batteries, there were many tiaras with diamonds so fine and earrings that glowed in the dark. So we glittered and shone, with waistcoats and ruffs and the smartest bow ties on the men, next to Kilts and long dresses, to help us imagine how it must have been once, at the time when romance was not sold by Walt Disney, but was served in confections dreamed up by Lehar.

It began with the bubbly, served up as we entered, and we milled about meeting old friends. There were also some new ones, who’d come from afar, for the word had gone round that our musical group from the Ballroom at Liston were yet again likely to create a sensation. The hall was expectantly crowded; a full house.

Pink Champagne 2010 014 EditOf course we did not just come for the music. We also came for the grub, and were not disappointed. For Trish Turner cooked a fine dish from Morocco and followed it by Pavlovas, served to us all by the bevy of elegant helpers**. As well as the bubbly, the wine was a treat too, selected to slide down too well***. But we were reminded of our duty by ladies who came round with the raffle tickets****.

So, as we sat down, well oiled by the wine, the music rang out to remind us what tomorrow would be; a day for love and longing. For this, the world of Operetta is perfect, with its cornucopia of love songs, satirical and sumptuous, alongside mock-heroics and rumbustuous drinking songs. The group serenaded us as we ate, starting with the Merry Widow waltz. They sang Offenbach together and Straus all alone. They then led us all to sing Suppé between courses and Kálmán right after the meal. The songs were familiar, so singing came easy. Was this due to our age or just that they’re classics? And the wine and the song blended us all together, mellowly magicked away from our cares. But then, this is what fine entertainers can do.
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Finally, as Ian announced that the end had been reached, Father Eion Buchannan stood up to propose a vote of thanks and a final encore of “My Hero”, from the Chocolate Soldier, sent us happy away.

* The event was organized by Angela Pacey, Claire Flux, Charlie Hamp, Diana Middlemiss, Jo West, Sara Payne.
** Angela Pacey, Claire Flux, Charlie Hamp, Jo West and Maureen Clayton served.
*** Wine was selected by Martin Pacey with help at the bar from Colin Flux, Jeremy Hamp and Nick West.
**** Raffle tickets were sold by Diana Middlemiss and Sara Payne.

George Kasabov

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