O WEN BRANNIGA.N had a date to sing Bottom in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream in Paris this week. "The trouble is," he says, "they've got a general strike planned so we don't know what's going to happen. We've even been told to take our own candles."
This will be the umpteenth time he's done Bottom since Britten created the part for him in 1960, and the first recording of the opera is due out this week. One reviewer in a pre-release flight of ecstasy has said that "not only Britten but also Shakespeare might have created the part for him."
Brannigan spends almost as much time abroad these days as he does at his London home. The big date this year is at _Expo 67 in September: the "Dream" again. In between he's got more records lined up, including a bumper disc with massed brass bands and choirs. "A sort of pop Gilbert and Sullivan and North Country songs," he says.
He likes the folk revival that's all the rage just now. He started the same sort of thing thirty years ago. "They thought I was something fallen pff a tree then," he says.
"And it's nice to know you're being copied. 1 invented some of the words when I first made records and now every body's using those words. It's a kind of honour, isn't it?" In the North they order his records in the same quantities as pop songs.
A lot of people have asked him why he's not been invited to sing at the opening of Liverpool CathedraL "I suppose they've got a point," Brannigan says. "After all, I did the Coronation and I've sung in every Cathedral in the country, and I'm a Catholic too."
He's recently given up his favourite hobby: matchbox collecting. "The trouble was that the Telegraph mentioned it in an article, and ever since people have been sending me tea chests full of them. I'd need a factory to put them all in and a staff to sort them out. We've had so many sent that my wife runs a mile at the sight of a matchbox."