Opera / “Opera Gala”, National Opera, Canberra, conducted by Louis Sharpe; choir director, Dan Walker. At Llewellyn Hall, August 28. Reviewed by POWER.
WHEN you present an opera gala, you have to offer a rather special program. The National Opera of Canberra did just that, with the National Capital Orchestra, the National Capital Chorus and three very fine sopranos delighting the audience with one great operatic aria after another.
It was introduced by the company’s artistic director, Peter Coleman-Wright, who promised an evening of well-known operas as well as some operatic works that deserved to be better known. He also set the stage for each of the elements as the concert progressed.
The opening element was the Overture to Mozart’s “Die Entführung aus dem Serail” (The Abduction from the Seraglio). The orchestra gave it a lively and tight performance under the direction of Louis Sharpe.
It was followed by the first of several choruses sung by the National Capital Chorus conducted by Dan Walker. Its first element was “The Bell Chorus” from “Pagliacci” by Leoncavallo. Accompanied by the orchestra, it was a lively but controlled and pleasant interpretation of this popular work.
The featured artist, soprano Eleanor Greenwood, then took the stage with a commanding rendition of “Dich, teure Halle, grüss ich wieder” (Dear hall, I greet you once again) from Wagner’s “Tannhäuser”.
A graduate of the ANU School of Music, Greenwood went on to a successful national and international career. Her dramatic sensibility and polished singing of the Wagner aria and other elements of the program demonstrated that she is a singer to watch in the future.
Associate artists, Canberra-based Hannah Carter and Canberra-born Emma Mauch, sang “Er ist der Richtiger nicht für mich!” (It’s not the one that suits me) from “Arabella” by Richard Strauss. The two sopranos sang this difficult duet with great skill and sensitivity, drawing loud applause from the audience.
Several other famous operatic choruses were performed, including The Bridal Chorus from Wagner’s “Lohengrin”, The Humming Chorus from “Madama Butterfly” and the electrifying Anvil Chorus from Verdi’s “Il Trovatore”. The singers gave them all great performances.
Eleanor Greenwood also gave superb renditions of “Pace, Pace mio Dio” (Peace, O mighty Father, give me peace) from Verdi’s “La Force du destin” and “Regina Coeli” (Queen of Heaven) from Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni.
At the end of the program, the three sopranos gave a very sensitive interpretation of “The Final Trio” from “Der Rosenkavalier” by Richard Strauss and ended the program with a lively and festive finale of “Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss, accompanied by the chorus. It was then followed by a cheerfully relaxed encore of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Gondoliers”.
It was a choice program of opera favourites. The fine performances of the singers and the orchestra clearly delighted the audience. It was indeed a gala evening.
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Ian Meikle, editor