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Raymond Gubbay

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 03 December 2006

Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the music impresario Raymond Gubbay. For 40 years he has brought popular classics and opera to the masses. His name has become synonymous with glittering evenings based on classical favourites with concerts often topped off with lasers, fireworks and light displays. He's worked with everyone from Pavarotti to Ray Charles and, while snooty critics dismiss it as 'middle-brow music for Middle England', it attracts audiences in their droves; two million people have now attended his 'Classical Spectacular' evenings.

It's a long way from his early days, when he toured the country with a small troupe of singers and a pianist. Then, venues would pay him 84 guineas to put on a Viennese evening or a Gilbert and Sullivan night and he had to pay the musicians and cover the cost of transport and hotels before he earned a penny. He says he gives people what they want, "tunes they can hum" and more often than not, he gets it right. But in 2004, for once, he misjudged his audience: he wanted to open a third opera house in London offering cheaper seats to a wider audience, but even before the curtain rose for the first time he knew they weren't selling enough tickets to stay open. He says it's been the biggest disappointment of his career, but he doesn't rule out another attempt to bring opera to the West End.

[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]

Favourite track: Final movement of Emperor piano concerto by Ludwig van Beethoven
Book: Unabridged Collins/Robert/ English /French dictionary
Luxury: An espresso coffee machine with coffee

Music Played

8 items
  • Image for Giacomo Puccini

    Giacomo Puccini Tu, che di gel sei cinta (from Turandot)

    Soloist: Montserrat Caballe

    Turandot, Decca

  • Image for Ludwig van Beethoven

    Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major 'Emperor' - 3rd movement

    Soloist: Benno Moiseiwitsch Orchestra: The London Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor: Eorge Szell

    Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos 3 & 5, Naxos

  • Image for Giacomo Puccini

    Giacomo Puccini Act 1 Duet (from Madama Butterfly)

    Soloist: Victoria de Los Angeles & Jussi Björling

    Madame Butterfly, EMI

  • Image for Giuseppe Verdi

    Giuseppe Verdi Sempre libera (from La traviata)

    Soloist: Maria Callas, Alfredo Kraus

    La Traviata, EMI

  • Image for Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

    Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Nutcracker ballet - Act 2 Final Waltz

    Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor: Semyon Bychkov

    The Nutcracker, Philips

  • Image for Édith Piaf

    Édith Piaf La Vie en Rose

    Edith Piaf: 25th anniversary:Vol 1, Columbia

  • Image for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Dove sono (from The Marriage of Figaro)

    Soloist: Elisabeth Schwarzkopf

    The Marriage of Figaro, Virgin

  • Image for Max Bruch

    Max Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor

    Soloist: Yehudi Menuhin

    Menuhin: Mendelssohn-Bruch:Violin Concertos, Naxos

Credits

Presenter
Kirsty Young
Interviewed Guest
Raymond Gubbay

Broadcasts

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