Franco’s Swan Song

For the last two years, Frank’s been thinking and talking about retiring his clown Franco Bassetti. Being a clown on the street is hard physical work and some of it didn’t agree anymore with Frank’s ageing bones. Last summer when we came back to Cardiff, we heard that the Welsh National Opera were planning to resurrect a 20 year old production of Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci, in celebration of the Opera’s 70th birthday. They were looking to employ as many from the original cast as possible, and Frank got his place as a clown in the clown troupe.

We came back to Cardiff in April this year, in time for the 6 week rehearsal period. I was not allowed to know anything about it, other than the fact that Frank came home completely drained of energy on rehearsal days. So it was with great anticipation that I went to the dress rehearsal last week. I was completely bowled over by the beauty of his performance. Ok, it’s a nice piece in itself too and the others were doing pretty well too, with a great chorus and exceptional principal singers, but in my view, Franco stands out above all others.

Despite the fact that his part has been toned down several times so as not to pull focus from the singers, Franco still shines. He doesn’t need to do much, his presence and way of moving captures the eye as soon as he enters the stage. He’s like a butterfly and compared to him, everyone else seems glued to the ground.

Ok., maybe I’m biased, but do go and see it if you can, see if I’m right – they have a couple more performances in Cardiff and two in Birmingham! This may well be the last time you can see Franco.



Posted in Uncategorizedwith 2 comments.


  • ruthandfrank says:

    Dear Vera, so sorry to hear that you have a broken knee!!!
    I’ll be in Devon as from Thursday so let’s catch up somehow – I’ll visit you in Plymouth if you like!
    Love, Ruth

  • Vera lees says:

    Dear Ruth and Frank,

    I have not doubt Frank’s performance is just as you describe it. It sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it. Unfortunately I am not mobile enough for the trip to Cardiff. Am only partially weight bearing with broken knee. Life is very slow and I can understand that Frank knows when enough is enough in his chosen career and passion. I shall always hanker after my Tango days and that is nothing compared to him giving up his work!
    But wishing you both fulfilment and decent doses of luck.
    Much love, Vera xx