We went to the First Night of the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall on Friday. Thanks to kind friends who invited us, we had wonderful seats and good company. The Albert Hall was packed full of enthusiastic listeners plus the 500 performers needed for Mahler’s Eighth Symphony. It was a colourful, vivacious scene and we revelled in the First Night atmosphere. But the famously muffled acoustics of the Albert Hall made it hard to hear the performers in any detail. They seemed small and far away, even when we could see them straining to produce a big sound.
The following night we stayed home and watched the second Prom, this time on television. The marvellous Bryn Terfel was singing the role of Hans Sachs in Wagner’s ‘Meistersinger’. It was far easier to hear and see properly, and because of the BBC’s recording skills we almost forgot that the performance was being relayed from the very same hall whose acoustics we had deprecated the day before. Without television, we would have missed the play of emotions on Terfel’s expressive face and the fascinating detail of his singing. How ironic that a televised performance should be more satisfying than a live one!