The cultural highlights of last week were Roderick Williams and Iain Burnside performing Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin in the Assembly Rooms at The Bath Festival, and a film of the West End production of Gershwin's An American in Paris at the Trowbridge Odeon.
It is invidious to compare the two as both were in their different ways quite wonderful. Zoë Rainey is no Roderick Williams but her rendition of a Gershwins' song would stand comparison with anyone, and Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope easily out-danced Kelly and Caron. And then there was the stage design which was beyond breathtaking. Williams and Burnside was a simpler affair – a rather grand piano, a simple stage, a few £zillion worth of chandelier, and an expressive, seemingly effortless voice. We were in the presence of greatness.
The audiences do stand comparison, however. In Trowbridge, it was largely grey, predominantly female, and not dressed for a night out. It seemed to cover the social spectrum with many, perhaps, turned onto Gershwin by Strictly. Bath looked like AB with a bit of C1, and was fairly evenly matched by sex (I cannot speak of gender). Whilst it was also pretty old (though silver rather than grey), it was mostly smartly dressed and slimmer 'n' trimmer than Trowbridge. It also brought that seemingly effortless social ease that Bath audiences are famous for. The costs of tickets for each event were roughly the same.
If the Bath Festival would like a more socially diverse audience I have a suggestion. Just match the Odeon policy of allowing customers to gorge excessively on popcorn, nachos, hot dogs, ice-cream, coke 'n' coffee during performances. This will not only help to tick all those diversity boxes, it will probably also boost income.