Not content with the pomp and circumstance of just one Last Night of the Proms, this year’s season features two.
Celebrating the legacy of the festival’s founder Sir Henry Wood, current Proms director Roger Wright has programmed a musical recreation of the 1910 Last Night. No waving of Union Jacks or singing of ‘Jerusalem’ at this Prom, however.
A century ago, Prommers would have enjoyed an evening that kicked off with Wagner’s Flying Dutchman overture, and included Beethoven’s Rondino for wind octet, Bizet’s L’Arlésienne and Dvorák’s Rondo in G minor. Fans of Wood’s Fantasia on British Sea Songs will be glad to hear that the Last Night classic appears in both the 1910 and 2010 Proms.
The season’s true Last Night includes soprano Renée Fleming performing Strauss’s Four Last Songs, and the world premiere of Jonathan Dove’s newly commissioned A Song of Joys.
The First Night should be no less memorable. ‘The most ambitious opening the Proms has ever had,’ according to Wright, the festival opens with Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 8 on Friday 16 July, and continues over the weekend with semi-staged performances of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger, with bass-baritone Bryn Terfel, and Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra, starring Plácido Domingo in the title baritone role.
Other highlights include Paul Lewis performing all five of Beethoven’s piano concertos, an evening celebrating the music of Stephen Sondheim, and two concerts by Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic.
Dr Who fans will particularly enjoy a concert featuring music from the BBC series, hosted by current stars Matt Smith and Karen Gillan.