To me," he said, "the revelations of this festival so far have been The Australian Voices and the Camerata of St John's."
He was speaking after a memorable moment of pure theatre. As the audience was giving Max Emmanuel Cencic, and the Camerata of St John's, an ecstatic standing ovation, Cencic took Brendan Joyce (the leader of the Camerata) by the hand, led him to the front of the stage, and insisted on sharing the applause with him.
I have never seen him do anything like that before" said Leo.
What a tribute – and well merited.
This reviewer has heard the Camerata give excellent performances before, but the chemistry between them and Cencic raised them – and dare one say both of them – to an extraordinarilyy high level, where musicianship and professionalism morphed into magic.
These are changed days when compared with a couple of decades ago, when counter tenors were something of a rarity.
I haven't felt like a freak since the 1990s," jokes Cencic, in an interview with John-Pierre Joyce. Singing as a counter tenor, he insists, is about precision and integrity, rather than imitating the castrati of the past. "We don't really know what they sounded like, anyway."
Precision and integrity, together with vocal beauty, were certainly much in evidence in Cencic's performance.
He showcased the music of Johann Hasse (1699-1783), showing a technical mastery and dexterity which was breathtaking.
The Camerata's pleasure in accompanying him was apparent, as was the energy and passion of their instrumental pieces. Locatelli and Teleman came to vibrant life in the first half of the concert. It was hard to believe that Brendan Joyce had just come from playing at the matinee performance of Faramondo.
After the intermission, the chemistry between the Camerata and Cencic was palpable, as they performed Johann Hasse's "La Sorte Mia Tiranna". The Camerata then played Gluck's "Dance of the Furies" with an energy and a passion that we will long remember, moving seamlessly into a sensitive and unforgettable "Air on a G string", which they made new and fresh, and for that moment, all their own.
Then we waited for Cencic to reappear. And waited longer. Brendan Joyce looked a little nonplussed, and the audience chuckled at the relief on his face when Cencic reappeared. He assured the audience that he hadn't decided to run away, and sang not only with precision and integrity, but with energy and passion.
Small wonder that Leo Scofield, director of the Festival, was a happy man. And small wonder that Cencic insisted that Brendan Joyce, and the Camerata of St John's, share our applause.