This pleasure gardens themed programme invites the audience on a narrated journey through the grounds of Vauxhall in 1785. Varied pieces from Playford, Arne, Oswald, Handel, Purcell and Leveridge are interspersed with short readings from real letters of the time that describe the exciting sights, sounds and atmosphere of the gardens.
Michelle plays us onto the stage with extracts from Playford’s The Dancing Master and we begin our journey…
“It is 1785…Welcome to the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens! The gardens enticed all manner of people, it’s softly lit paths becoming known for their romantic assignations. There were circus artists, hot air balloons, fireworks and concerts. There was music of all types in the air… “My eyes grew dazzled, my head grew giddy, and all night I dreamt of Vanity Fair.”
We proceed with Purcell’s Music for a While and continue with a variety of musical numbers, each tying in with the observations in the readings: a statue of Handel, the stage for the musicians, flirtations in shadowy lanes. The music is varied in style, moving from the reflective to the emotional to the toe-tapping comical.
Coming full circle, we leave the gardens, and the stage, with the sound of birdsong (extracts from The Bird Fanciers Delight – John Walsh) heralding the morning and the close of another wonderful night at Vauxhall.