Monday, 27 June 2011

A little more Opera.....

Last night I attended a concert at Cadogan Hall.  A beautiful venue, always a pleasure to hear music there.

Opera UK were providing an evening of entertainment presented by Natalie Wheen.  Yes, that's her, the knowledgable and conversational presenter for Classic FM.  She clearly loves opera, and made sure we were all informed as to the arias, the background of the opera, characters, the composers etc.  Thank you Natalie!

Before I begin, I'd like to mention the person who is usually ignored or forgotten throughout performances like this, the accompanist Stephen Hose.  The evening was about music, the singers provided the voices, he provided the music for all of them.  As a highlight, his playing during Dvorak's 'Song to the Moon' was outstanding, to the point where I couldn't remember the orchestral version afterwards.

The program was romantic, no Haydn or Handel, and none the worse for that.  Mozart, Bizet, Puccini and Rossini. Verdi, Delibes, Lehar, Gounod and Bernstein.  A showcase for great voices, but also for opera too.  I won't list each piece, all will be familiar to any music lover, but there were some notable exceptions.  Adam Miller's rendition of 'Factotum' was made especially entertaining as he juggled oranges whilst singing a particularly difficult part.  'The Flower Duet' from Lakme, (Nicola Pulsford and Clare Presland) despite its relentless use in adverts was (for me) tear-jerking.  Clare Presland's rendition of the 'Segadilla' from Bizet's Carmen was wonderfully lusty.  The two most impressive pieces, for me, were Alison Guill's 'Song to the Moon' mentioned earlier, and Anando Mukerjee's 'Nessum Dorma'.

Although I've singled out a few favourite pieces, I haven't chosen a favourite singer, my choice was based upon my favourite songs and music.  All the singers were excellent and will be heard from in the future.  In fact, some of them are already making noises.

If there is one thing that the evening reminded me, it's that listening to music on the radio or CD is absolutely no substitute for hearing and seeing music live.

Another thing is that opera has a class thing attached to it.  Maybe it's seen as being a purely middle-class form of entertainment.  That may be true of the Royal Opera House (though you can get tickets for under £10 if you're quick enough) but there are many other places that offer opera, at much more affordable prices.  Not just in London either!

And a small bit of advice (I recently learnt), choose what you want to see, download the libretto/lyrics, look on Wikipedia for the story, get the general gist of what's going to happen, and then.................

......sit back and enjoy the music.

The performers were:

Belinda Evans
Alison Guill
Patrick Mundy
Adam Miller
Anando Mukerjee
Clare Presland
Nicola Pulsford

Great music and great company.

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