An alchemy hard to describe
Philip would breeze into the rehearsal room with all the eagerness and curiosity of youth. His enthusiasm and openness were matched, as one soon found out, by a steely will. What was special about Philip was that he was prepared to let his will be bent – sometimes demolished – by the torrent of intuitive force that flowed from him when released.
To work with Philip was to be at the top of your game – not because you had to, but because he left space and inspired, invited, enabled you to fill it. I was only 24 when I first directed him and Janet Baker in Savitri for Scottish Opera. They could not have been more encouraging, humble or respectful. Their trust gave me enormous confidence and openness. Nine years later we were together for Billy Budd riding the rollercoaster of a role which is Captain Vere. Here I remember the excitement of discovery and long passionate arguments shared with John Tomlinson…heady days indeed. Those rehearsals were everything I had been looking for …challenging, stimulating, inspiring as I struggled – determinedly – to keep up with these two joyous lions. But the route to Philp’s artistry was only after the arguments..not necessarily as a result of them, but because they had happened…an alchemy hard to describe… was it the underlying anxiety of not being good enough that was responsible for his works' reach, both in terms of artistic ambition and humanity?
Years later we are together again for Moses und Aron – again with John Tomlinson...and still the same eagerness – curiosity – youth!! He worked incredibly hard, bringing to the rehearsal room that finely honed and disciplined technique which helped him make the absolute most of his instrument. Immaculately prepared as ever, both in study and thought, to help him conquer the demons of self doubt, he knew this was just the beginning of the next phase. Here the struggle was judgement. Philip’s intellect had sat in judgement on his character. Being so great a singer and musician he’d aligned his view with both text and music. But the mystery of acting is non-judgemental and I watched him grapple with himself, leaving behind the worldliness of thousands of years of tired western cynicism as he struggled towards an ardent politically passionate Aron, hungry to be believed….