The Last Night Of The Proms – last night – was festooned with EU flags but there was only one flag on our mind at BCN Towers.
Mezzo-soprano opera star Jamie Barton delivered Rule Britannia to the Royal Albert Hall wrapped in the pink, purple and blue of the bisexual flag – and looking spectacular with eyeshadow to match. As the song reaches its climax she raises aloft a rainbow flag; the hall erupts in delight. The BBC commentator carefully doesn’t mention what either of these symbols mean while this happens, just that Jamie is “entering into the flag-waving spirit” of the evening.
Through the evening she was performing alongside the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Chorus and BBC Singers under conductor Sakari Oramo. Barton performed Bizet, Saint-Saëns and Verdi, but also brought herself and her story to the performance.
Jamie told The Slate beforehand: “There were two very big things that I wanted to touch on with my guest appearance: one was my own walk with body positivity. And the other is bi visibility, pride, particularly with this year being the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. It just made every bit of sense to me that when I walk out for Rule Britannia, I’m going to have a Pride flag when the audience is going to have Union Jacks.”
Alongside the classics her contribution also included a performance of Somewhere Over The Rainbow.
BCN’s editor Jen Yockney said of it all: “Talk about turning a venerable institution on its head!
“This is not the Proms we normally picture – here is the pink, purple and blue writ large, putting bi identity and pride centre stage in the Albert Hall. A huge rainbow projected across the hall. Bi and Pride flags alongside and supplanting the red, white and blue in a sea of blue-and-yellow European flags as the capital rises up in quiet protest at the prospect of losing our membership of the EU. The musical world of 1895 meets Eurovision, and not a minute too soon.
“Twenty-one years ago when the bi flag was first crafted we’d’ve never believed it.”
For readers in the UK, you can still catch all the action including a lot of rainbow flags as well as the bi flag over on the iPlayer here. If you only have ten minutes for it we recommend about 30 minutes in for Somewhere Over The Rainbow and 1 hour 5 minutes in for the unveiling of the bi flag cape and Rule Britannia. And after you’ve enjoyed that, rewind to 25 minutes in for a short interview with Jamie recorded in advance.