Saturday, 29 October 2011

Janet Macdonald presents a dazzling 'Opera Gala' at St Margaret's Church Topsham Saturday 22 October

'Opera Glass' sing Mozart: "O never trust that evil man" from 'Don Giovanni'
Bass: Julian Rippon, Soprano: Janet Macdonald,
Mezzo Soprano: Anneke Freeland, Tenor: Chris Hunt
(accompanied on piano by Joyce Clarke)
Following the success of 'Songs for Summer Nights' at Poltimore House on 8th July, soprano Janet Macdonald reconvened the 'Opera Glass' company for an opera gala at St Margaret's Church in Topsham last Saturday (22nd October). The lighting at the church is commendably energy saving, but somewhat sombre (see photo above). However, the acoustics are excellent and perfectly suited to a recital of favourite opera arias. Margaret Chave was unable to make a return visit as pianist, but fortunately the very talented Joyce Clarke was able to take over for the evening.

Each aria was given an informative and humorous introduction by Peter Macdonald - always welcome when listening to less familiar works - or taking a foray into the world of opera for the first time.

For the opening aria 'Pur ti miro, pur ti godo' ('I gaze at you, I possess you') from Monteverdi's 'Coronation of Poppea', Janet sang the part of Poppea Augusta Sabina, mistress of the emperor Nero. Janet was joined by Dutch mezzo soprano Anneke Freeland who sang the part of Nero, which is not so strange, as the role was originally intended for 'castrato' voice which is quite close to  mezzo soprano. Anneke's voice has a delightful soft tone and perfectly complements Janet's.  This Venice Carnival piece from 1643 with the words of Giovanni Busenello set to music by Claudio Monteverdi was the first to use characters from history ('The Twelve Caesars' by Seutonius) instead of characters from mythology.

Anneke then took us back to Greek mythology with the doom-laden aria 'Ahi! che forse ai miei di l'ultima aurora splende!' ('Alas! perhaps for me the last dawn shines!') from Luigi Cherubini's 1788 opera 'Demophon'. Anneke was playing the part of Dircea, who is secretly married to King Demophon's heir Timante. Dircea is due to be sacrificed to Apollo - will no-one come to her rescue? We have to see the whole opera to find out, but Anneke's entreaties set the scene beautifully.

Tenor Chris Hunt and bass Julian Rippon sang the essential duet of Georges Bizet's 1863 opera 'The Pearl Fishers' - 'Au fond du temple saint' ('Behind the holy temple') in which the fishermen Zurga and Nadir renounce the love of Leila in favour of remaining friends. A very touching scene, performed with great sensitivity.

For a further two hours the singers entertained the audience with French and German opera classics - 'The Marriage of Figaro' (Mozart), 'La Boheme' (Puccini), 'The Magic Flute' (Mozart), 'Faust' (Gounod), 'Jeanne d'arc' (Tchaikovsky), 'Turandot' (Puccini) and finally, the grand finale - Mozart's 'Don Giovanni'. All four singers joined together at last in reviling the terrible don: 'O never trust that evil man' and 'Sinner pause and ponder well'. Beautifully acted and sung (in English) these final Mozart arias finished off the concert in style.

The singing had been glorious - Julian Rippon in particular has an extraordinary voice, and Anneke Freeland is a wonderful new addition to the team. It was sad that soprano Mary O'Shea was not able to make make Saturday's concert, but let us hope she will be available for the next 'Opera Glass' production.

Janet Macdonald will be at Southernhay Church in Exeter this Friday, 4th November, with baritone Iain McDonald (no relation) for 'Autumn Music'. Instrumental music will be provided by pianist Margaret Chave and clarinettist Philip Bonser. Peter Macdonald will once again be introducing the music.

Autumn Music
Southernhay Church Exeter
Friday 4 November 7.30pm
Songs and Clarinet Favourites with Piano
Mozart Clarinet Concerto
Paul Reade's 'Kitchen Garden Suite'
Franz Schubert 'Shepherd on the Rock'
Gabriel Fauré, Gerald Finzi
Soprano: Janet MacDonald
Baritone: Iain McDonald
Clarinet: Philip Bonser
Piano: Margaret Chave
Tickets £5

Janet Macdonald, Julian Rippon and Christopher Hunt will be performing with the Clyst Valley Choral Society and an instrumental ensemble conducted by Paul Stock (and organ playing by Mark Perry) in another of their double concerts - Saturday 19th November at St Margaret's Church Topsham and Sunday 20th November at Holy Trinity Church Exmouth - both at 7.30pm.
Bach, Charpentier and Schubert - a great evening of music!

Clyst Valley Choral Society
St Margaret's Church Topsham
Saturday 19 November 7.30pm
Sunday 20 November 7.30pm
Bach: Nun Danket Alle Gott
Charpentier: Te Deum
Schubert: Mass in G
Soprano: Janet Macdonald
Tenor: Christopher Hunt
Bass: Julian Rippon
Organist: Mark Perry
Conductor: Paul Stock
Tickets: £8 (advance £7)
Joel Segal Books: 013921 877895
01392 271858

And soprano Mary O'Shea will be singing with piano accompaniment from John Scarfe at Glenorchy URC in Exmouth on Wednesday 9th November at 12.30pm.

Soprano Lunchtime Recital
Glenorchy United Reformed Church Exmouth
Wednesday 9 November 12.30pm
Soprano: Mary O'Shea
Piano: John Scarfe

 1. Where E'er You Walk (Handel)
 2. Gia il sole dal Gange (Scarlatti)
 3. When I Am Laid In Earth (Purcell)
 4. Bist du bei mir (Stolzel)
 5. Voi che sapete (Mozart)
 6. Standchen (Schubert)
 7. Der Nussbaum (Schumann)
 8. Widmung (Schumann)
 9. Fair House of Joy (Quilter)
10. Ophelia's Song (Maconchy)
Admission Free, retiring collection

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