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The Lebrecht Weekly

 

Visit every week to read Norman Lebrecht's latest column. [Index]


Dressed to impress

By Norman Lebrecht / September 12, 2007


After a summer of glorious cancellations, Anna Netrebko turned up to sing the Last Night of the Proms in two new gowns, one for each half of the concert, beating off all contenders to her reigning title as the Paris Hilton of the opera world.

The silvery creations, we were told in awed tones by BBC1ís commentator Alan Titchmarsh, had been specially made for the occasion by Escada, while the jewellery was top-of-the-range Chopard. Both brands have sponsorship deals with the extravagant Russian soprano, who could otherwise barely have afforded a new set of eyelashes on a BBC concert fee.

If the sponsors hoped for public exposure, their wildest dreams were fulfilled when Titchmarsh name-checked both brands not once but twice in the concertís second half, digressing on the marvels of the designer outfits while saying very little about the music Netrebko was singing. Even viewers of the Shopping Channel would have found this a bit dumb.

It is four years since the nationís favourite gardener was imposed by television bosses on the Proms, on the grounds that he was a Ďpopular presenterí who would broaden the festivalís appeal and could read whatever musical facts he needed off an autocue. Until now, Titch has been tidy as a suburban privet.

Last weekend, though, he crossed a non-herbaceous border. Every BBC presenter is warned that it is a serious violation of the charter to engage in product placement on air, usually a sackable offence. No-one is suggesting that the grinning gardener was trying to flog frocks. All he was doing was burbling away when he had nothing intelligent to say Ė and the fact that he had nothing intelligent to say is reason enough for removing him from the frame. Much is about to change at the Proms next season under a new director, Roger Wright. The search is on for a presenter who can tell the difference between a music festival and a fashion show.

To be notified of the next Lebrecht article, please email mikevincent at scena dot org


Visit every week to read Norman Lebrecht's latest column. [Index]


 

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