Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Lord Harewood RIP

I last visited the magnificent Palladian Harewood House whilst on my bike trip through Yorkshire in May 2009. The current (7th) Earl clearly not only cherished his immense inheritance, but had enhanced its collections in so many ways. Of his renowned collection of 20th Century paintings and sculpture, the first glimpse you have upon entering the house is Epstein's still-shocking "Adam". My photograph shows Astrid Zydower's 1984 work, "Orpheus".

As an eager opera-goer in my 20s, my bible was Kobbé, in its radical revision by the same Lord Harewood, who seemed to know everything there was to know about opera. And so indeed Tom Sutcliffe confirms in his comprehensive obituary of the 7th Earl in today's Guardian.

It mentions "the competition between the Wells and Sir Georg Solti's Garden, which faintly echoed the royal operatic rows involving Lord Harewood's Hanoverian forebears in Handel's day." I wonder if he knew this: the 1st Earl's younger brother, Francis, 14 when Handel died, never married, but fathered ten children by one of the day's Covent Garden superstars, Ann Catley. A properly comprehensive biography of her is eagerly awaited, but from what we already know, she (and therefore Francis Lascelles) would certainly have been at the centre of many of the operatic controversies of the day.

Our children (no opera singers amongst them, alas) are part of Francis and Ann's immense brood - 4th grat-grandchildren.

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