For Soprano, Piccolo and Bass Clarinet
(2009) 3 minutes
Text by Blance Ebbutt
Commissioned by Jane Manning for her 70th Birthday Concert at the Purcell Room, London in 2009. Premiered by Jane Manning, with Robert Manasse (piccolo) and Sue Gill (bass clarinet).
Don't (2009) might be regarded as a little appendix to One Life Stand. Dedicated to Jane Manning for her 70th birthday, it quickly takes its singer over the top, out of tune, and out of breath as she runs through some urgent injunctions to be observed in the daily attempt to keep the marriage running smoothly. The text was compiled from Don't's for Wives (1913), a handbook of marriage advice by Blanche Ebbutt in which the wife is advised not to exhaust her artistic power but absolutely to forbid her husband to wear "a violet tie with grass green socks". The accompaniment, for piccolo and bass clarinet, is brilliantly and wittily crafted. One can see that Ebbutt's volume could have been the source material for a One Life Stand of a hundred years ago!
© Malcolm MacDonald
"Jane Manning gives a priceless performance of Frances-Hoad’s 70th birthday gift, a witty homage compiled from the ludicrous Dont’s for Wives (1913)." Helen Wallace, BBC Music Magazine
"Frances-Hoad does playfulness as well as she does piety and pathos though. Don’t (2009) was dedicated to soprano Jane Manning for her 70 th birthday and sets text compiled from Blanche Ebbutt’s Don’t’s for Wives (1913) — a handbook containing hundreds of snippets of entertaining advice for a happy marriage that has more comedic value than useful matrimonial guidance: for example, Ebbutt urges that a wife should forbid her husband to wear "a violet tie with grass green socks" and instructs, "Don't expect to know your husband inside and out within a month of marriage. For a long time you will be making discoveries; file them for future reference". Manning has just the right balance of vocal precision and dramatic insouciance; as she journeys to registral extremes, her soprano interacts ironically with laconic contributions from piccolo (Robert Manasse) and bass clarinet (Sue Gill), coolly conveying an air of self-deluding sincerity. Claire Seymour, Opera Today
"Theatricality has always been Jane Manning’s forte, and the best of the songs played up to her histrionic gift. At one end of the spectrum was David Sawer’s Caravan, a setting of a nonsense poem by Dada poet Hugo Ball, at the other was Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s entertaining ’Don’t!’, full of pert advice to housewives taken from an etiquette guide of 1913. They were great fun, and performed with lip-smacking relish by Manning and her minstrels."
Ivan Hewitt, The Telegraph