JULIET LETTERS BY ELVIS COSTELLO
The Crossing Machine – Alma Hotel, Norwood 15 and 16 February 2020
The story behind the music which make up the Juliet Letters is an interesting one, coming, as it does, from letters that many people have written to Juliet (Romeo and Juliet) in Verona, despite that fact that, if she had lived, she would be long dead by now. Elvis Costello used the inspiration of these letters to compose twenty songs, in collaboration with the Brodsky Quartet. Given that combination it follows the the music is quite wonderful, quirky at times, brooding, joyous and evocative. It takes a fine quartet to play this music, and a versatile and accomplished singer to perform this song cycle.
In The Crossing Machine we had four fine musicians, Marianna Rothschild, Kat Stevens, Jason Thomas and Janet Butler. They negotiated the changes in mood and rhythm, playing always with an impeccable understanding of the underlying mood of each song. The group is made up of classical trained musicians who ‘cross over’ from time to time to tackle works outside the standard repertoire.
The success of this work depends to a very large extent on the singer, and Douglas Kelly handled each and every one of the twenty songs with conviction, and sensitive vocal colour. From the opening song, Deliver Us, to the bitter Damnation’s Cellar and the final plaintive, The Birds Will Still Be Singing he conveyed the meaning and sentiment in each song. Considering that this work is often performed with three or four singers it says much for Douglas Kelly, who is at home with opera and lieder as he is with more contemporary music, that he succeeded so well.
It was, however, a collaborative performance as the musicians and singer carried all before them in this demanding song cycle.
A review from the 2019 Butterfly Club Series:
If you want a quirky, fun, romantic, traumatic and tender singing of letters to Juliet Capulet – then this is a lot of fun from a quasi classical slash pop rock slash musical theater bent then go to The Butterfly Club Thursday, Friday or Saturday evening for this outstanding performance.
Catching tonight’s performance in the cosy and intimate venue of The Butterfly Club, it was a such a treat.
When I first heard this song cycle of voice with string quartet it rattled my mind and made me treasure new composition for this format.
Tonight was the opportunity to hear this gem performed live by the talented The Crossing Machine strings and Douglas Kelly bring to life these witty, heartfelt, heartbroken and passion filled, albeit imaginary, letters to Juliet Capulet.
Douglas Kelly masterfully sings evoking the persona of each letter as the string quartet players accompany and feature equally throughout in a tender and gorgeous performance.
We are so spoiled to have such talent here in Melbourne!!
A magical adventure in a genre that both entertains and surprises.
Only three more performances remain so get in quick.
Thursday, Friday & Saturday.
Also, grab a mulled wine from the bar and enjoy the spirit of star crossed lovers at The Butterfly Club.
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Melbourne Made Music!