Opera Favourites, Welsh National Opera

March 7, 2024 by

In Opera Favourites WNO’s Orchestra and Chorus took centre stage. The audience was treated to a diverse programme of familiar and maybe not-so-familiar opera treats, selections ranging from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro to Britten’s Peter Grimes.

It was delightful to see the orchestra up on stage, and some of the most effective moments of the night where when the chorus was in full force and at full power. Of course there were star performers too, the soloists James Cleverton, Adam Gilbert, Melissa Gregory and Emily Christina Loftus, who all sang and acted their socks off. It was not just Melissa Gregory’s outfits which sparkled; her performance of Bizet’s L’amour est un oiseau rebelle from Carmen was especially delightful.

Special mention also needs to be made of Fiona Harrison-Wolfe’s stand out contribution to the Easter Hymn from Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana; this was a triumphant and moving conclusion to the second half, before we were treated to some further classics in the encore (including Nessun dorma from Puccini’s Turandot).

Other highlights were The Flower Duet from Delibes’ Lakmé, and O mio babbino caro from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. I was very glad that the programme also included some Tchaikovsky (the Waltz from Eugene Onegin), and I was happy that Mozart was featured, even if the pieces from The Marriage of Figaro seemed slightly underpowered. As a lover of baroque opera I was disappointed that there was no Handel.

Conducted by Frederick Brown and Edmund Whitehead, and directed by Sophie Gilpin, the programme made for a very enjoyable evening, and left the audience wanting more. Fortunately full-scale productions of some of the operas featured are coming to the WNO 2024/2025 Season: Verdi’s Rigoletto, Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, and Britten’s Peter Grimes. Our appetites have been cleverly whetted.


Image: Kirsten Mcternan

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