I am not directly involved with the University or Union and only knew
about the production because someone was handing out flyers outside
the Grand when I was there a couple of weeks ago to see Opera North in
The Girl of the Golden West. I looked it up on the website and decided
it sounded worth seeing/hearing - and it was.
I don't know if there were others to came to see it as a result of the
flyer, but I am glad that I received it.
I saw the Elixir at the end of last year at the Royal Northern College
of Music - their student singers have all sorts of specialist whizzkid
scholarships, it was a college production by students on the verge of
professional careers, they have far more resources than you do, I am
sure, a much bigger and posher theatre and there was clearly a lot of
non-student involvement - director, producer, conductor and so on were
staff or professionals - they have lighting experts, language coaches
and all the paraphernalia of a big professional opera company- and
yes, it was very well done and I did enjoy it - I am not particularly
knowledgeable or musically educated by I enjoyed it more than a lot of
professional productions like Covent Garden or the New York Met (I
only see them in the cinema as relays) because of the enthusiasm and
passion of the performers, and the lack of star posturing.
But I enjoyed what I saw tonight even more than that - and anyway I
don't see the need to compare the two productions - both were
extremely good - so I am going to stop comparing - I just wanted to
say that I enjoyed the OperaSoc one more.
I liked your take on the opera - it was fresh and I thought it worked
well - it was an interesting approach to have them as students.
The chorus were very lively, they sang and acted well - there were
some quite funny touches from one or two of them.
All the singers in the principal roles acted and sang very well. To
me, they all had nice voices and they sang with passion and
conviction. I suppose you would expect that from musicians/music
students and I see that the three males singers are studying music, (though Calum Macgregor, according to the programme, has not sung in
opera before)and so must have had some training, I expect. The two
young women aren't music students.
I thought Sarah Calvert had a really nice voice ( I have already said
that I thought all the singers had) and sang very well. It is a
slightly odd role because she seems a bit of dark horse and even
rather cruel in the way she behaves - Sarah acted it with innocence
and she was believable. She sang her arias well.
Annalise Hughes who played Gianetta was lively and sang her part very
clearly and well.
But I think this particular opera favours the male singers more in the
parts that were written for them.
Sam McCagherty has a good strong voice and sang and acted the part of
the conman in a very mature way. The duet with Adina was done very
well by both of them. He was an entirely believable Dulcamara and also
played him in quite a sympathetic and likeable way.
Kyle Harrison-Pope also played Belcore in a likeable way, - I had
always thought he was a bit of a pompous, self- preening, vain,
bullying bastard - not Kyle himself, I hasten to add, (I am sure he is
not, but I do not know him) the character, I mean, but there was quite
an ambiguous air about the way Kyle played him - that made it more
interesting than just a sort of thick, womanising soldier - Belcore's
presence on stage was powerful and attractive, and he wasn't someone
you were able to dislike, so that made an interesting balance with
Nemorino - such that Adina is not just flirting with Belcore to
provoke Nemorino but is also drawn to Belcore - and one can see why.
The singer has a powerful voice and he sang in a masterly way. It was
a very exciting and powerful performance from a young man.
It was also a powerful performance from Calum Macgregor. He really
does have a beautiful voice, very lyrical and very passionate voice. I
liked the idea of his being a bit of a nerd - and it was very
interesting that Adina really starts to want him when he is fancied by
all the young women and at that point turns into someone to rival
Belcore in his appeal. He acted it well and I thought he sang his part
with real feeling - the duet between him and Belcore was, I think, the
first time the audience allowed itself to clap, and rightly so, I
Yes all in all, it was done with real feeling and commitment. I
haven't mentioned the orchestra, but they were essential of course and
played really well. And I know lots of other people put work into it:
the result was a performance/production that was really worth coming
to see. I was very impressed, but more importantly I wasn't bored -
quite often at professional performances I think, oh yes this is no
doubt of the highest standard, but there is no spark. There were
plenty of sparks tonight.
Opera may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but LUU OperaSoc are trying to change minds on that front, one show at a time. After a highly successful first show of “Cinderella” earlier this year, they are at it again with “The Dragon of Wantley”. With audience comments such as “Delightfully silly, and a very high standard of performance” it’s not one to miss.
The show is based on the classic tale of a village terrorised by a dragon, and the brave knight who slays it to win a fair maiden. However, this is a story with a twist - the knight is a drunkard who already has a lady-love, the village is populated by an interesting array of characters (and at times animals) and the dragon...well, we don’t want to spoil the fun for anyone still hoping to catch the show.
Directed by Claudia Chapman, a second year music student who took one of the starring roles in “Cinderella”, this baroque opera is given a panto spin topped off with some brilliant references to the ever great Monty Python. The principles carry the show wonderfully, with the chemistry between Moore (Chris Pelly) and Margery (Bianca Von Oppell) lighting up the stage. OperaSoc relies on their non auditioned chorus, who not only add character to the group scenes, but who also perform the complex music to perfection despite many of them coming from non-musical backgrounds.
The show is supported by a live orchestra, led by MD Chris Roberts, winner of NCEM Young Composer of the Year Award in 2012. They provide a skilled accompaniment to the action on stage, and are a big part of what makes this show so enjoyable - finding a group interested in performing baroque operas such as this one can be challenging, but under the instruction of Chris the music comes to life. As usual, LUU Backstage Society have also given their all, bringing some fantastic set and wonderful lighting to top the show off.
Overall it’s hard to rate this show as anything less than 5 stars. For those who enjoy opera already, this is a wonderful opportunity to see a baroque piece in all its glory. For those who’d prefer a light introduction this is a show full of laughs and with an easy-to-follow and fun plot. The show opened on Wednesday 24th and runs until Saturday 27th of April, tickets are £5 for students, or £7 for non-students.