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Adès, “The Dante Project,” and the BSO

Thomas Adès
Askonas Holt
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Saturday, March 25, 2023
8:00 PM

Encore broadcast on Monday, April 3

Thomas Adès returns to the Boston Symphony to conduct Igor Stravinsky’s dreamy retelling of Perséphone and two of his own works inspired by Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century Italian epic poem Commedia.

Thomas Adès, conductor
Edgaras Montvidas, tenor
Danielle de Niese, narrator
Tanglewood Festival Chorus, James Burton, conductor

STRAVINSKY Perséphone (libretto and translation)
Thomas ADÈS Inferno Suite
ADÈS Paradiso

Hear this concert with the audio player above.

To hear a preview of Inferno Suite and Paradiso with Thomas Adès, use the player in the tab below. For a preview of Stravinsky's Perséphone with Danielle de Niese, use the player in the tab below. Read both transcripts in the respective tabs below:

Interview with Thomas Adès
Thomas Adès interview, Mar. 22, 2023

TRANSCRIPT:

Brian McCreath I'm Brian McCreath at Symphony Hall with Thomas Adès, who is back once again with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. A really amazing program with a piece by Stravinsky and then your own music. Tom, thanks for a little bit of your time today. I appreciate it.

Thomas Adès My pleasure.

Brian McCreath Before we talk about The Dante Project, I want to ask you about pairing that piece with the first half of Stravinsky's Perséphone or Persephone. And they have a very clear parallel in terms of traveling into the underworld. But tell me more about how these two pieces sort of speak to each other, why you felt like that was the right way to precede your music from Dante.

Thomas Adès Well, Stravinsky tells the story of Persephone going into the underworld. It's a Greek myth, of course, and it's part of his new classical period, one of the great peaks of that time in his life. So he . . . actually it's one of his most expressive pieces. You know, Stravinsky, who famously said music can't express anything at all. In this piece, every little detail of the story is, is there really pictorial in the music. And so beautiful.

And he really writes about it as though she's a real girl, you know, who happens to be a goddess of spring. And [laughing] the whole story that she's sort of stolen by the king of the underworld. And that's why we have winter. And then she can't bear to be away from the earth for the whole year. So she has an earthly husband as well. And that's why we have spring. And it's done so beautifully as though it's a real story, like an opera. And then Dante, of course, is, you know, from many centuries later than the Greek myth. But . . . so that's what my pieces are based on, on his vision of the underworld, which is definitely a place where, you know, you're punished for your sins.

But there is a lot in common with the . . . Stravinsky's Greek world. You have the souls in limbo and very, very beautifully evokes that kind of . . . their existence of sort of eternal sleep and waiting. And it's very, very beautiful. Lots of this music there. And Persephone has never seen anything like this before. All she's seen is flowers and happiness. And she says, like a proper princess, "I must help them," you know, like she goes there for almost for charity work [laughs]. It's rather wonderful. And indeed, she does help them.

And . . . but then Dante has those character — there is a limbo in Dante's Hell, which is for people who were born, in fact, before the birth of Jesus Christ. So all the great Greek philosophers, Aristotle, etc. are actually there in limbo, rather unkindly. They're not in paradise because they're just . . . they're too old [laughing] to get in. So there is in my Inferno Suite, there's a pavan for the souls in limbo, which is the third number in the suite. So that's actually, I think, not a million miles away from the sound world of the Stravinsky, actually, that particular piece.

But so then turning to the Inferno Suite and Paradiso, they are parts of my ballet Dante, which was done as The Dante Project in London, and actually the Inferno uncut version of it is nearly 50 minutes long. The suite is much shorter. It's just four or five bits, and I love a ballet suite. I really do. I think . . . I just [laughing], I think it's a wonderful way to hear, you know, music in a way, in a kind of pure way. It's not part of a symphony and it's not being danced to. It's just these . . . I really enjoy the Tchaikovsky ballet or the Stravinsky suite. So I think I really enjoy that. So Inferno, my version has, I think, [counting] one, three, four, five, six, I think numbers, something like that. So Abandon Hope is the first one. That's the gateway to the underworld. Then we've got The Selfish — stung by wasps, and then you have The Ferryman, which is the Charon who takes the souls across the River Styx into the underworld. Then we have the Pavan of the Souls in Limbo. Then The Popes’ Adagio [—heads first —], the popes in Dante, the bad popes, I should say quickly, the ones who've done something wrong, which was quite a lot of them [Brian laughing] in those days.

And his punishment for them is rather splendid. They're pushed head first down into holes in the ground. Then when a new evil pope comes in, they simply put on top of the one before [Brian laughs]. So they just sort of feed them down this tube. So that's evoked in the music. Then there's The Hypocrites — in coats of lead who say one thing and do another. It's very sad. And then you have The Thieves [— devoured by reptiles], which is a very wild sort of can-can or galop. But the thieves is extraordinary punishment. They're very low down, the thief, they're well below murderers in Dante's world. Thieves is the second worst thing you can be other than Satan. And their punishment is they constantly turn into reptiles, which then devour themselves, and then kind of . . . they come out again as people, and there's this kind of eternal self-devouring, it's quite terrifying. So that's fun. And then I do end the suite with Satan in the lake of ice.

Brian McCreath It's amazing. That's just incredible.

Thomas Adès Quite a lot to cram in. Paradiso on the other hand . . . In the ballet, you have one in the middle of purgatory where you're cleansed and you go. And then my idea of Paradiso is completely different, obviously, from Hell. And it needs to be. It's one spiral that goes on for about 20, bit over 20 minutes. It's one movement of upward-ness. And you sort of wake in this . . . in my mind, a kind of sun-drenched meadow full of, you know, butterflies and insects and flowers and it's all buzzing with life. And then you just . . . it sort of, as it were, upwards from there, spiraling upwards, until at the end we reach what they call the "imperium," the very top. And where you find the ladies of the Boston Symphony Chorus [Tanglewood Festival Chorus], who sing for the very end of the piece. For the yeah, for the final top level.

Brian McCreath So this is all incredibly fascinating. Thank you for the descriptions, that's fantastic. But the themes that you're describing, I see maybe light connections to some of the other music I've heard from you. What I wonder is what did The Dante Project give you the chance to do that maybe you hadn't done before?

Thomas Adès It's a very good question. A ballet invites the composer to have fun, physically, and be more relaxed in some ways in the music. You can employ sorts of melody and repetition and harmony, a certain kind of, you know, something you can dance to, basically, and that will evoke colors strongly or evoke physical movement for the choreographer. And there's a bit of leeway in ballet because, you know, you've got room in the music, you've got to make room for somebody to leap across the stage. It just takes a certain amount of time. If you know there's a limit to how quickly you can leap across the stage, or pick somebody up, or whatever. So the tem— it's not the tempo, but it's like the pace of the music is . . . it actually becomes in a way more legible because it's based on the body and that's part of it. So that's really a nice opportunity.

And I think it can make it more viscerally moving. You know, if you think of the great ballets of, to me that's Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky, mostly, they do have this special kind of swing to them and a special impact to them. So, I mean, that might be something. The other thing is I allowed myself, particularly in the Inferno, as Dante, the poet in his story of it, has a guide to the Inferno, who is Virgil, the poet from, you know, another millennium or so, before him, more than. I took as my guide the composer Liszt. Because I think that there's no composer who is more intimately acquainted with hell and the demonic than Liszt. I mean, he really is the greatest composer of that world, and so fascinated by it returns to it again and again. There's something about the music that he wrote about that and around that, that still to this day, you feel it's very immediate. You know, when you hear that music, it's still kind of live somehow. You open the door and it's still there.

So what it meant was that I felt I could take the liberty, and it is a liberty, but I took it, of sort of ventriloquism sometimes through [Liszt] . . . so even I sometimes I'm not sure now where to draw the line, what's me and what's Liszt. I sort of got . . . I kind of climbed into his clothes in a little way in some of it. And there are parts of it which are absolutely 100% me and no Liszt at all. And there are parts I'm deeply you know, which are 100% Liszt. So . . . and it really does move all in between, and some parts are meant to be me as a, you know, pianist battling through bits of great Liszt piano music at home bit faster than I can actually play it properly. And then I've orchestrated that to make a sort of effect.

Because I think what I wanted, you know, is the feeling that timelessness in this, that, you know, when you look at Dante's writing about Inferno, he throws people in who are from, you know, thousands of years before he lived and also people who are actually still alive at the time he's writing, he puts them in Hell anyway, doesn't care. So there's this wonderful sense that it comes from any time, and it's ver— you don't feel that you're reading something from the 13th, 14th century at all. It feels very kind of . . . it's still happening now. That's an amazing thing. I mean, I can't hear any other writer that's true of who's that far away from us in time, but it feels incredibly immediate. So I wanted a bit of that that you wouldn't know when are we, in the 19th century or the 20th century or the 21st or what. Or maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe you were outside time. So that was what I wanted to achieve in this piece.

Brian McCreath And when you kind of came into the opportunity to do this piece, was Dante and the Divine Comedy something that you already had sort of coursing through your system, or did you need to do a lot of reading up and research? I mean, how prevalent is this world, for lack of a better term, in your own sort of personal life?

Thomas Adès Yes, that's a good question. Well, the fact is I had devoured Dante quite young. I ate it all up, you know, at a precocious early age. And I was sort of, you know, 13 or 14. But I absolutely can't pretend I understood every, obviously thing that I was reading. In a way, though, at that age, you know, I just found the Hell, the geography of it so cool, because he really describes it like it's a real place. It's very physical, you know, down inside the earth. He described all the different circles as you go down. And there are pictures, you know, lots of wonderful illustrations. So that was fantastic. When you're a 13 year old, I mean, you know, it's very, very cool. And I actually, being me, I knew that I love the big pictures of the demons and the snakes and all the horrifying things.

But I also like the Paradiso illustrations of these kind of weird circles of angels going round and round, and then they just end up being big white spirals, because I've never seen anything like that before. And Purgatory is also incredible, it's that he goes through Hell down through the lake of ice and you see Satan from below. And then he comes up in Mount Purgatory, which is upside down on the bottom of the earth. And it's a sort of . . . in Dante, it's a real place, but where the rules are different and you pick flowers to kind of heal your wounds from Hell, and then they immediately grow again in the same place. And this is the kind of magical place, Mount Purgatory. So all of that mythical side of it, it went for me with The Lord of the Rings.

And, you know, I thought I saw it like that. And then I kind of went away for 30 years [laughing] and forgot about it, or whatever. And somebody said, "You know, would you like to write a ballet?" Oh my goodness, what am I going to do? And I knew that it needed to have three different parts that could be put together. There were various reasons for that, for the timing. You know, one part was to be premiered and just suddenly, as these things can do, it just came into my head. I know [laughing] what I could do. And then because it, I mean, that's the sort of material of, you know, death, damnation, salvation [laughing]. You know, it's a world that I've sort of touched on before, actually in my work. So I didn't feel like I was completely coming to it, you know, cold. It just was one of those that once I'd had the idea of doing it, it was a point of no going back, actually.

Brian McCreath [Laughs] That's fantastic. Yeah. So an opportunity to tap back into those magical moments of childhood, discovering this stuff that's so fantastical.

Thomas Adès That's right. Yeah. I think that is why it was fun for me to try and recover that sense of excitement and wonder. I'll never forget Wayne McGregor's face there, when I said, "What about Dante?" We both simultaneously, like thrilled and terrified because he's the choreographer who did it. He's like, "Oh my goodness, I'm going to have to come up with something for this . . ." [laughing]

Brian McCreath It sounds like it worked out pretty well, though.

Thomas Adès I'm glad. I'm glad. I think so. We're going to bring it to Paris actually very soon. The Paris Ballet are doing it all through May. So that's going to be very exciting.

Brian McCreath And is this piece still so fresh for you that maybe it even is evolving still, or do you feel like you have more or less the final form of the music we're hearing in this concert? Even if I know you, you'll pull things out of it for other works along the way. If I'm correct, right?

Thomas Adès Oh, I don't know. I might. Yes, I might do — I think I already have, actually. I mean, that's quite a lot. It was a strange one, because the premiere of the ballet was supposed to be April 2020, and I don't need to tell you that that didn't happen and that it was ready, the music was ready for that in some form when it came to 2021. And we thought, actually, I think this is going to work, this is going to happen. I had during the period that we all had at home, I had a chance to look at the orchestration again and I thought, actually, you know, I could probably do this a bit better idea, have another go at this. I've got time, nothing is happening. And so I rolled my sleeves up and waded in. And I'm really pleased. I think, that the piece that we premiered in October 2021 benefited from a bit of extra attention, I must say. I would say.

Brian McCreath Yeah, that makes sense. Well, Thomas Adès, it's so wonderful to have you back in Boston. So wonderful to hear your music, and thank you for all your thoughts and for your time today. I appreciate it.

Thomas Adès Oh, thank you very much. Thank you very much.

Interview with Danielle de Niese
Danielle de Niese interview, Mar. 22, 2023

TRANSCRIPT:

Brian McCreath I'm Brian McCreath at Symphony Hall with Danielle de Niese, who is in the title role of Perséphone [French pronunciation] or Persephone [anglicized pronunciation] from Stravinsky and Danielle, it's so good to have you here. I've been eager for you to come to Boston for a long time. So here you are.

Danielle de Niese I'm so thrilled to be here. Thanks for having me on the show as well. It's just incredible to return to Boston, having come here when I was 13 years old to . . . on a special exception to attend, even though I was far too young for the program. They let me in to do the Tanglewood Institute when I was 13.

Brian McCreath Well, then we are happy to claim at least a tiny bit of credit for getting your career launched and on its way.

Danielle de Niese Absolutely, absolutely.

Brian McCreath Well, tell me about Persephone. And this is an unusual choice, it seems, for a lot of opera singers. I don't know. It seems like a role that an actor would inhabit. But you are an actor after all. Tell me about your decision even to take on this role. When did the opportunity come to you and how did you think through taking it on?

Danielle de Niese Well, to be honest, I didn't really think too hard about it because when it came back that it was Thomas Adès and the Boston Symphony, I said, yes, absolutely, I will be there. So looking . . . I mean, I'm incredibly flattered to have been asked to do a role like this. I mean, and looking at it, I saw . . . I think I could understand why perhaps people would have thought of me for a role like that if they were going to ask a singer to embody Persephone because I think in a way, part of what I do with my approach to singing is very actorial. It's very much part of my DNA that I don't really see singing and acting as separate things.

In fact, even when I am working in rehearsal in a vocal role, I would speak it just as much as I've been speaking Persephone, because I really feel that all text and all music that we hear is really just a play with sound. I don't think of the vocal vanity of singing as the number one priority. It's always for me the text, and it's always what emotions come out on this text. The bed of sound is what we're given in order to emit that. So I think of myself as like a vessel to make that emotion come to life, which I think those tenets are quite important when it comes to doing something like Persephone, because there are parts of it that feel vocal, and you do . . . you know, I think it can be very helpful if you have a vocal sensibility and also a musician's sensibility to Stravinsky, because Stravinsky is just such a graphic composer. So yeah, it's just a wonderful opportunity to use a lot of my skill sets in an unexpected way.

Brian McCreath And when it comes to the character herself, Persephone. What do you do to understand this character, and how do you inhabit it? What did you do to prepare and research?

Danielle de Niese You know, Persephone, I mean, it's one of the Greek legends. So the first thing you have to do is sort of read up on your Greek mythology, recap things that you may have last looked at in high school even. But, you know, we do have a lot of operatic pieces that involve Greek mythology, so it's not terribly unfamiliar. Persephone is the daughter of Demeter [anglicized pronunciation], Déméter [French pronunciation], who is the goddess of the harvest and of agriculture. Persephone, being almost like the princess of the meadows, you know, of the flowers and of nature. She is spring. Although when we meet Persephone in this piece, there is no such thing as spring, because there has never been a winter.

I mean, this is a very beautiful part of the story of Persephone and Demeter. There's a beautiful mother-daughter relationship between them that's always worth exploring, even though Demeter is not in this piece. But she's referenced all the time. And Persephone is a young girl, a young maiden, you know, roaming the meadows. When Pluto or Hades, the God of the underworld, takes her away. And this is the very first time that Earth or any of its inhabitants have known anything other than beautiful sun and harvest.

At the capture of Persephone, spring goes with her to the underworld. She's drawn in. She inhales the narcissus flower, and she's warned that doing that will give her a window into the underworld. But she can't resist. And she sniffs the flower and then has a vision of all these sad souls. It's something that Thomas [Adès] and I have been talking about. The idea that until that moment, Persephone has never seen sadness, never experienced loss. She's never seen those emotions even. So, imagine probably what it's like for a small infant to see their parents in anguish or something like that.

For Persephone, this is like a newborn experience to not know an emotion until she sees it reflected back through this vision. And this draws her in. This draws her right in. And she says at a certain point, you know, "Nymphs, my sisters, my beautiful companions, how could I stay here and laugh and sing with you after I have seen, and after I would know that there is a people out there who are suffering and living in the waiting in between?" That's a rough translation because I'm doing it directly in French. But it's absolutely her decision to go down there to see what she saw in the vision.

And because of that, Demeter, her mother, gets in such an awful rage and desperation at the loss of her daughter, who she entrusted to the nymphs. And, you know, she comes back and her daughter is gone, she rages against Earth and this is how the earth becomes barren. So this is the first time that, you know, the inhabitants of Earth have not had a harvest, have not had a season of grain, of corn, of all of the fruits of nature. They just . . . it just goes away and the whole world becomes barren as spring goes underground. So this is a . . . you know, it's an incredible . . . of course, it's a metaphor for all of the seasons. And, you know, it is the story of the seasons. It's the legend of how the seasons came to be. And I really loved reading about that.

But I also liked kind of looking into the score and exploring for myself. What are some of the ambivalent feelings a young woman might feel when she's taken away by a man and then comes of age? Down in the underworld and becomes more . . .a grown up. More of . . . she grows into her skin. She grows into herself, and then has to decide whether she goes back to Earth. I mean, she has the opportunity and she chooses to go, but she's no longer the same person that she was. So there is a push-pull that we've . . . see in Persephone between the girl who her mother wants to reunite with, and the woman that she's become. So this is the journey that has been beautiful to explore in the piece itself. And then, you know, to do that in this incredible company of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, they are the best of the best. I know I don't need to say that, but . . . and I have friends in the orchestra as well. You know, it's been just heaven to see them again and to reunite with these these incredible musicians.

Brian McCreath You just tell that story so beautifully. My goodness [Danielle laughs]. That's just so lovely the way that you narrate the entire thing just right here. When you do look at the score with all that story, all that context in mind and with all this music behind you . . . tell me about your way of interpreting the words as performance. I saw you in rehearsal even, you look like you were almost . . . you're swaying and kind of conducting, looking at your part as though you're envisioning how the music and your voice line up. Tell me what that's like for you.

Danielle de Niese Yeah, I think most of classical music works in this way because we have music being a quite two-dimensional thing. When you look at it on paper, it's just ink, you know, notes on a page. Our job as artists is to sort of bring it to life, and in doing that you have various elements in which you can approach this. So one element is like, you know, looking at the harmonic structure. So, you know, I've done theory since I was about seven years old and, you know, I can look at it and analyze the piece harmonically and understand what Stravinsky felt about the text. Because, you know, there's also . . . you start any piece with a text or a libretto, and then you do have the composer's feelings to put it there as well. So he indicates what he feels about that particular text with the harmonies that he chooses to compose.

So there's that element and then there's the theatrical element. So what a little bit what we were talking about, like looking at the journey of Persephone and making sure that you're not just . . . you're never just reading line for line. Oh, here's my next entrance. Okay, I now say this and I now say that . . . she's, you know . . . and I'm really pleased that you mention it, because she is not the narrator, even though she's in the role of the narrator. Interestingly, it's the tenor who narrates much more what happens. So he has a vocal narration and she has a verbal emotional journey. It's completely unusual. You would think it would be the other way around. You'd have . . . perhaps the tenor might have been a speaking role Persephone might have been a singing role. It's beautiful that Stravinsky decided to flip it like this.

And I suppose the third element is marrying those two ideas, but also I find that you can't make every decision before you go into the room with all of your fellow musicians. There's absolutely no way that I could have made any final decisions on how to perform Persephone without spending some time with Thomas Adès, our wonderful maestro, but also to listen to the musicians is really important. And there are colors that they find that can give you even more clues. So, you know, this is magical. The other thing that's really interesting is that Stravinsky did not place his text in the score in very, very specific places. He's written the lines above roughly where the music is that she will speak.

But it's really up to me where I may choose to say the words. So Thomas and I go through that, and there are some places where he'll say to me, "How do you feel? Do what, you know, do what you feel." But there are other places where he might say to me, "Actually, having heard you do it three different ways, I really like this one particular way," or "We need you to come in a little bit later because the horns are really loud here." So there's a lot of coordinating, and at the same time, you've got to, as an actor, have the freedom to express the colors of the words without feeling like, you know, you've got a train to catch. You know, it's because you've got to finish by a certain time. So it's a really tricky thing, actually, because you do want to let the piece breathe. At the same time, Stravinsky had to put bars in, you know, he had to put measures in there, so he had to set it to a particular structure. And that that does leave you with you know, you do have to finish by a certain time. But the trick is not letting anyone actually experience it that way, or think that you are trying to fit it all in one page or two pages of music.

Brian McCreath The way you describe that makes me feel, and I'm not an opera singer, but it makes me feel almost like it's more of a complex sort of artistic expression than opera can even be. Opera, you're . . . you are on those bar lines. You're singing a melody, you're singing a duet or whatever. But this, you have so much more freedom to move around within those bar lines that it sounds like there's . . . it's an exciting thing, but also maybe a little bit daunting to do that.

Danielle de Niese You're absolutely right. It is more daunting, but it also is very much more exciting. And interestingly, you are right that opera has much more structure to it. For me, the magic of what I love to do with opera is and I think, you know, it's my joy if I can accomplish this on stage, is that if I can tell a story in a structured, you know, format of opera and make it feel through my interpretation or through my acting that that line was never coming at that time, that to make opera feel theatrical is why I get up every day. That is to me, the great challenge of opera.

But it's the most magical thing when it's accomplished is to be able to make something that is actually very structured, feel just completely organic, you know, and feel that, you know, if you're doing "The Marriage of Figaro," that Susanna never was told that by Figaro except for that very instant, and that you can give the impression of spontaneity to structured music is that final element that takes music off the page and makes it magic.

Brian McCreath Oh, that's so beautifully said. I love that Danielle, thank you. Well, on a completely different topic. By sheer coincidence, you happen to be here in Boston when a pretty major announcement was made about you. And I have to ask you about it. You made a choice for the summer. Where you going to be singing Andrew Lloyd Webber in the West End Aspects of Love. And I've got to ask you about that decision. I mean, look, your career is so varied, you're willing to try seemingly anything, but tell me about your choice to do Aspects of Love this summer.

Danielle de Niese Yeah, it was a really unusual opportunity that came my way. I did a musical working session with Jonathan Kent last year in the middle of doing La bohème at Covent Garden, and It’s a Wonderful Life at the English National Opera. And then I was also doing an immersive Messiah with projections and dancers and, you know, a really sort of Messiah like you've never seen at Drury Lane Theater, which is another West End theater. So I was involved in like three quite unique and different projects that kind of, in a way, as you said, sum up that . . . the varied nature of my career, one being, you know, very traditional opera, another being a modern new work by Jake Heggie, you know, at the Colosseum, and then another being, you know, Handel, but with a twist.

And in the middle of that, I also met Jonathan Kent, who's a wonderful opera director, theater director. You know, he's an absolutely brilliantly accomplished man and sang for him a couple of songs. And I was suddenly, you know, offered this role in Aspects of Love with, you know, the iconic Michael Ball, who is, you know, the original Marius from Les Misérables. And, you know, there isn't a person who knows musical theater who doesn't know about Michael Ball. So it was just incredible. And it was a really interesting and rare thing for an opera singer to be asked to do a project like that.

And, you know, one of the things that I have always done in my career back from even the Tanglewood days when I was 13, I used to take music to like inner city schools or, you know, high schools, places where they didn't have access to classical music. So I used to do projects like musical encounters with the school that I went to the arts conservatory called the Colburn School. I've always been very passionate about letting people my age know about opera. So when I was very young, then they were very young. I'm a little older now, but I still do the same thing. I still . . . I'm very keen on opening up different audiences, new audiences, younger audiences to opera, because I think it has an incredible potential to be very transformative and be very moving in the right context.

And that's also part of why I present TV shows on the BBC and make films about, you know, classical music. And it's also why I do things like, you know, musical theater projects or do things like the Last Night of the Proms. And, you know, there are lots of different ways that people can experience what I do as an artist. And I thought this was . . . would also be a really interesting opportunity, and a way to see a different audience and let them also see what I can do, so . . . and of course, to be asked to do an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical when, you know, he's the foremost composer . . . the king of musicals, the King of the West End, and he's the king of everything, really. But it's just been an incredible opportunity to be able to be in one of his musicals. So I'll be thrilled to be sharing the stage with Michael Ball this summer. And if you're in London, come out and see the show.

Brian McCreath Fantastic. Danielle de Niese, it's so good to talk with you, and thank you for a little bit of your time today.

Danielle de Niese Thank you. It's my pleasure. So nice to meet you.