I AM CONDUCTING a one-woman campaign to get Craig Revel Horwood judged a winner.
Who’d have thought it? Mister Scary judge from Strictly Come Dancing (though I think he’s usually on the money even if he doesn’t dish it up nicely) being on the receiving end of all that criticism. And having the fright of his life?
Craig is one of four innocents who have been thrown into the lions’ den that is top-class opera.
The BBC’s latest series of Maestro has seen four competitors being scared out of their wits trying to conduct musicians and singers at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.
My sympathies were initially with the musicians but over the weeks of whittling down the baton babies from four to two, I’ve cringed, hidden behind my hands and despaired for these mini-Maestros.
I’ve never seen anything as highly-strung as actress Josie Lawrence – no not even the orchestra’s entire string section.
I agonised for DJ Trevor Nelson whose early unguarded comment: “I thought conductors were just for show” swiftly came back to haunt him.
He staggered out in the early rounds followed soon after by the lovely Josie who, on the conductor’s podium, shook so much you felt she’d have been safer in the percussion section.
Mathematician Marcus du Sautoy is formidably intelligent, fiercely competitive (though largely with himself) and is dragging the orchestra along at often breakneck speed. Pity the poor singer who wasn’t given time to spit out her words. In German.
And pity the poor tutor who told him to stop looking like an axe-murderer. It’s a line Craig would have revelled in!
As for Craig, seeing him shaken out of his dance world comfort zone has been the most intriguing development of the series.
By last week, the handcuffs his tutor stuck on his wrists to stop him waving his arms like a windmill seemed to have made the point.
Here’s a perfectionist, a musician and maybe just the man who can find the combination of strength and sensitivity to make us all enjoy Maestro At The Opera.
It’s a judgement call already made many times by the man who for me has proved all series what a Maestro is. Sir Mark Elder, music director of the Hallé.
He’s led master classes, chaired the judges and given a flawless performance of the authority, personality, technical brilliance and charisma needed to be a Maestro. Watch and learn, Craig.