Sir Mark Elder Joins the List of Acting Musicians

By Classicalite Newsdesk on Dec 17, 2013 11:07 PM EST

The leading British conductor Sir Mark Elder reportedly gave his London acting debut this week. Sir Mark's inner thesp came out during a performance at the Royal Festival Hall of Offenbach's Fantasio, where he gave the spoken lines of Le Tailleur. Whether his cameo makes it onto the linked recording, on the Opera Rara label of which Elder is artistic director, remains to be seen. Apparently he managed to both conduct the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and have his lines heard by turning to the side for a moment.

Not that we expect Elder's King Lear any day now, but this is as good an excuse as any to recall five famous cases of musicians turning to the thespianic arts...

1. Willard White's Othello -- magnificent brooding from the bass as director Trevor Nunn harnessed all of the singer's considerable stage presence and worked with him intensely on the verse-speaking. The production was filmed, and it's probably the best Othello on DVD, with Ian McKellen's matchless Iago alongside.

2. Rosa Klebb -- Nobody ever wielded a blade in the boot as well as Lotte Lenya's classic James Bond villain in From Russia With Love. Does Kurt Weill's muse kill 007? I think you know the answer to that one.

3. Lou Canova -- No, there isn't a real singer called Lou Canova, rather it's the name of the unforgettable character in Woody Allen's film Broadway Danny Rose who needs his girlfriend smuggled to his performance to quell his nerves. But Canova was played by the real-life crooner Nick Apollo Forte. Whose website says, "Keep Italian in your heart!"

4. Liberace is "fabulously yours!" -- Anyway, that's what the tag line for the 1955 movie Sincerely Yours said. Liberace wanted to develop his acting skills for his entire life. This movie was to have done the trick. Despite the fact that he was apparently a fine actor, it didn't.

5. Alison Balsom at Shakespeare's Globe -- OK, this is slightly cheating, as the popular English trumpeter played much more than she acted in the Globe's big 2013 summer show. But the play, Samuel Adamson's Gabriel, was sensational so La Balsom sneaks in.

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TagsMark Elder, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Royal Festival Hall, Liberace, Alison Balsom, Shakespeare's Globe, Willard White, Trevor Nunn, Ian McKellen, James Bond, From Russia With Love

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