A Proms concert is truly the most wonderful exhilarating theatre event you can attend, but this was going to be my first ever outdoor Proms event ... and it's definitely one I hopefully intend to repeat.
So for those of you who could not be there, I hope you enjoy my recollection of this incredible concert . . . I once again apologise for the length
On my later than planned arrival at Rochester Castle, I quickly spotted my wonderful Fantoine friends, frantically waving to me from the queue, and after many hugs and greetings from wonderful friends, from near and far, Some met several times before and a few fabulous first meetings, we all headed into the castle grounds. Following the crowds, who like us, were all laden down with tables, chairs and cool boxes of assorted sizes. Deciding where we were going to sit was not an option ... right near the front of course! Table up, seats out, selection of fabulous picnic food and drink laid out, Cornish Pasties, Devon Cream Teas, Quiches and Eton Mess, and several bottles of bubbly ... a wonderful afternoon lay ahead, so hats on and we were ready! prom dresses 2019 cheap
The orchestra at this point were all casually dressed and seated up on that magnificent stage, they were already completing their sound check. This was definitely a concert of two halves - the practise sound check with performers in casual clothes and then the actual performance, with them all in their magnificent finery ... what a treat to see it twice!
When Jonathan took to the stage in his comfy shirt and shorts, huge cheers went up, especially from the Fantoine contingency in front of the stage. The sound and mics were playing up a bit for Jonathan's sound check and took a lot of tweaking ... so lucky for us that meant he had to keep coming back on. Each time he came out with that cheeky grin of his, he would wave and blow kisses to all of us sat down there at the front.
So there he stood, phone in one hand, bottle of water under his arm and his other hand in his pocket, calmly going through the songs with the musical director, absolutely amazing... and this was just the sound check practise.
Now follows a quick apology to Jonathan, as part way through this practice run, Debby , Sarah and I decided to hold up a very large homemade white banner, with the words 'Jonathan Antoine' and ' # Believe ' painted in large black print. Jonathan being midway through a song with his back to us, then turns, a quick burst of giggles follows, as he spots the banner, luckily this was a practice run. We refrained from holding it up again. Sorry J, we love you. Lol.
There became a fabulous banter between audience and performers as they each came onto the stage during this very relaxed practise sound check time.
When Laura and Jonathan came on together to practise the sound check for their finale duet, Jonathan had made himself even more comfortable ... this time coming on bare footed and showing his wonderful sense of humour by jokingly waving his feet about.
Looking out at the crowd to a huge sea of Union Jacks, Laura announced to Jonathan that she thought they needed flags... unknown to her Jonathan already has his, in the form of his truly fabulous cape.
Special Guests, Graffiti Classics were the warm up band, they are a wickedly funny all singing all dancing string quartet ... fabulously entertaining musicians with something for everyone. They got the audience laughing, clapping and singing along. Totally uplifting variety of musical styles, all tied together with cheeky audience interaction.
Led by musical director Michael Reed, the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra were incredible, along with The Hertfordshire Chorus Choir, they produced mesmerising musical theatre and film music, from Carmen, The Onedon Line, Carousel and Romeo and Juliet. Their dramatic performance of 'Oh Fortuna' by Carl Orff was totally breathtaking, as the choir drops quickly into a whisper, building slowly in a steady crescendo by both orchestra and choir, it was truly stunning!
The incredibly talented Laura Wright took to the stage, singing a most beautiful song from Carmen, 'Chanson Boheme' (The Gypsy Song) she has a wonderful bubbly personality and the most incredible voice.
By now we were getting tantalising glimpses of Jonathan at the back of the stage, so we began to get incredibly excited. Then Michael Reed began Jonathan's introduction and on he came, walking jauntily onto the stage with a wonderful air of confidence, waving and smiling as he arrived to tremendous applause and cheers. He was looking totally fabulous, so relaxed and incredibly dashing in his fabulous suit, accessorised with pocket silk square and flower.
The orchestra struck up the bars of Puccini's fabulous Che Gelida Manina ... a hush fell over the massive crowd as Jonathan started to sing. A truly remarkable performance which brought gasps of incredulous awe and delight, heard all around the grounds as he reached those amazing notes, the audience were totally spellbound. The passion and love for his music laid bare for all to see. A world class performance that had the audience on their feet as he finished, he began his walk off stage, he waved and hands together bowing, gave his trademark thanks to the audience, who replied with rapturous applause and cheers.
More fabulous music from the RPCO, 'The anvil chorus' by Verdi.
Jonathan then returned to the stage for his final song of this first half. He'd chosen the truly beautiful and very special song 'Volare' from his Tenore album. This fabulous song got the audience joining in with the chorus ... it was such a joy, seeing both audience and Jonathan having such a wonderful time singing together.
We were now getting into very serious and truly patriotic flag waving.
With stunning music from The RPCO, 'The Great Escape' and the truly magnificent '1812 Overture' complete with bursts of cannon fire, fireworks, dancing water fountains, bells and brass ... truly spectacular!
Laura Wright, took to the stage, looking stunning in a fabulous gold sparkly dress. She delighted the audience with a beautifully sung song from My Fair Lady, a stunning performance of 'I could have danced all night' to which she received a very loud round of appreciative applause and cheers.
More wonderful instrumental numbers from The RPCO, 'Spartacus'
Jonathan was again being introduced by Michael Reed and he came striding onto the stage to an even louder eruption of cheers, whistles and applause, as more and more people in the audience were falling under this incredibly talented young man's spell. He looked absolutely fabulous, in another gorgeous suit, accessorised this time with red, white and blue pocket silk squares. His final solo song was to be the incredibly beautiful 'Bring him Home' from Les Mis. A truly emotive rendition of this wondrous song. Phenomenal singing, breathtakingly beautiful, and a performance which had the audience on their feet once more, to loud cheers and huge applause.
We were all well and truly into the Proms and patriotic flag waving now as a the lovely Laura Wright gave a rousing performance of Rule Britannia.
Jonathan appeared at the side of stage and walked triumphantly on to loud cheers, for he was draped in his magnificent Union Jack cape, for Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March no 1, 'Land of Hope and Glory' the whole audience rose to their feet all waving their flags and singing. During the instrumental part Jonathan and Laura walked off to the side of the stage, coming back on for the rousing chorus, as the whole audience joined in. He was obviously enjoying himself immensely up there, waving his cape about, as the music played and fabulous fireworks rained above. An encore of this followed, much to the delight of the crowd.
So wonderful seeing Jonathan clearly having so much fun, as both he and Laura were having the time of their lives, laughing and enjoying the whole atmosphere of a tremendously exciting Prom night, with a sea of waving Union Jack flags stretching out before them and never ending fireworks, this encore ended, then Laura was presented with a bouquet of flowers and Jonathan with a bottle of wine. A last finale by The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, as they burst forth with a fabulous rendition of 'The Can Can' A final flourish of fireworks and dancing waterfalls, then a rousing round of applause and huge cheers of thanks for a night of outstanding entertainment!
A final round of hugs and goodbye kisses, as we say our goodbyes to our wonderful family of Fantoine friends.
The Proms at Rochester Castle ... what a truly incredible experience ... I can't wait to do it again!!!