It wasn’t over until the thin lady sang. But it was fat lady who won the prize.
As I contemplate my ample girth, mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton’s victory at this year’s Cardiff Singer of the World competition has come as a confidence-boosting joy and a welcome snub to those who tell us that only people with svelte figures can succeed.
Ladies of more generous proportions can rejoice today.
It came as a huge surprise when I received an invitation to attend the final of this year’s world-renowned competition.
I was even more surprised when, arriving at St David’s Hall with my good lady, I was escorted to the posh seats.
Surprise turned to astonishment when I noticed that I was sitting just four seats away from Lord Patten of Barnes, Chairman of the BBC Trust who was there to award the audience prize.
“Hi, Chris, how’s things?” I whispered as he took his seat. Apparently, he didn’t hear me.
My excitement grew as I realised that I was almost within touching distance of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, jury member and Patron of the competition.
“Hi, Kiri, nice dress,” I observed as she entered the hall to applause. Alas, she also appeared not to hear me amid the chatter of the audience.
Sitting a few rows behind me was Dame Norma Major, wife of former Prime Minister, Sir John. I wanted to ask her what cricket-fan John thought of England’s chances in the Ashes but I couldn’t quite catch her eye.
Looking at me with that frown that always signals danger, my wife slapped me on the wrist and told me to behave myself.
So, I settled back to listen to the five finalists, with Jamie from America on first.
It came as no surprise to learn that Jamie enjoys cooking in her spare time. However, it was a tad surprising to discover that she also enjoys white water rafting. The sight and sound of Jamie hurtling down the rapids, perhaps singing a Verdi aria, would indeed be something to behold.
She sang beautifully, moving your Man on the Street to tears with her rendition of Var det en drom? (Was it a dream?) by Sibelius.
After that, the other competitors were always facing an uphill struggle.
Ukrainian soprano Olena Tokar, who came on last, is remarkably slim. She also sang beautifully. Apparently, she doesn’t go in for white water rafting, preferring instead the quieter and less dangerous pursuits of dancing and going to museums.
She certainly gave Jamie a run for her money, but when Dame Kiri announced Jamie as the winner it was warmly welcomed by the audience.
The final came just a day after Sir Tom Jones announced the winner of The Voice.
In her introductory remarks to the Cardiff Singer of the World final, Radio Cymru’s Beti George dryly remarked that Sir Tom was in the “wrong place at the wrong time”. Instead, she suggested he should be back home to listen to the genuine voice.
They say it ain’t over until the fat lady sings. But I reckon that for Jamie Barton it is only just beginning.
I had a lunch appointment in Swansea on Saturday and decided to get there early so that I could watch the British Lions versus Australia test match in a local hostelry first.
Thinking it best to give the Mean Machine a rest, I decided to travel to the ugly, lovely city with my wife by bus.
Having bought my tickets online, we were allowed onto the bus first, giving me a chance to watch other passengers as they boarded.
Among them was an elderly couple, apparently regular travellers, who handed over their usual fare only to be told by the driver that it had increased significantly.
“Oh, dear” said the elderly lady, fishing in her purse for the extra money. She handed it over with a smile.
“Mmm,” I thought, profoundly, “When they put bus fares up in Brazil there are riots on the streets. When they put them up in Wales, people say ‘Oh, dear’ and smile.”
With the latest UK Government spending round likely to once again hit Wales hard, how will men and women on the street react?
It’s fair to assume that George Osborne is betting that the Welsh Government will wring its hands and do nothing, while the hard-pressed people on the street will say “Oh, dear” and smile.
It’s been a long time since the people of Wales have felt compelled to take to the streets en masse and say “enough is enough”.
Perhaps the time has come to learn some lessons from the people of Brazil and give George Osborne and the Welsh Government a bit of a jolt.