Evaluation of Opera North’s efficiency of Fidelio at The Lowry, fifteenth June 2021


Rachel Nicholls as Leonore in Opera North’s manufacturing

of Beethoven’s Fidelio. Credit score Richard H Smith 

Opera North’s return to stay efficiency at
The Lowry obtained the identical type of reception that the Hallé’s to the
Bridgewater Corridor did virtually a fortnight in the past. My goodness, we’re glad to see and
hear stay music in our group once more.

It was a one-nighter solely, an in-concert
presentation with a small and socially distanced, mask-wearing viewers, of
course, no set past a properly lit backdrop colonnade of pillars impact, with
fiery mild glowing between them, and no interval. The solid have been in a line at
the entrance of the stage, with the orchestra behind, and had to deal with minimal
appearing, even when singing about being in one another’s arms when clearly they
couldn’t be.

(The one different factor within the go to is a
so-called ‘Evening on the Opera’ of concertised excerpts, so hardly counts in my
e book. It’s humorous how marketeers attain for that title when what they should
provide is particularly not an evening at an opera, however a set of songs from
the exhibits).

However at the least it made some amends for the misplaced
nice Beethoven celebration of 2020. Opera North did get this model of Fidelio
out in December by filming it in Leeds City Corridor and streaming, and our solid in
Salford have been precisely the identical, the main change being that the conductor this
time was Paul Daniel, not Mark Wigglesworth.

The opera is introduced within the model edited
by David Pountney, the place all of the spoken dialogue is changed by a narrator
gadget: the actor-singer who’s Don Fernando (Matthew Stiff), and usually solely
seems on the finish to save lots of the hero and heroine and kind the whole lot out, is
on-stage the entire time, presenting his report of the story for a ‘fact and reconciliation
fee’.

It really works higher this manner than in
the unique, which is a Singspiel with considerably detached narrative ideas
and verbal writing and might usually appear within the opening scenes as if it’s going to
be in an identical vein to elements of The Magic Flute. (Pountney’s textual content was
additionally used within the Hallé live performance efficiency of Act Two below Sir Mark Elder in
February 2020, within the Bridgewater Corridor – and with two of the identical solid).

All of the virtues of the earlier Opera North
solid have been current on this stay efficiency, and extra so: particularly Rachell
Nicholls as Leonore (the heroine who enters a jail disguised as boy to hunt
out her kidnapped and ravenous husband, Florestan – OK it’s not precisely on a regular basis
credible stuff, however the vital factor is how Beethoven’s music lifts it), and
Brindley Sherratt as Rocco, the top warder who has touches of a comic book
Everyman-in-any-humble-job about him. His daughter Marzelline (Fflur Wyn) falls
for the supposed younger ‘Fidelio’ who is admittedly Leonore, considerably upsetting her
actual aspiring suitor, Jaquino (Oliver Johnston).

The opposite two key roles are Don Pizarro, an
out-and-out villain who’s the explanation for Florestan’s disappearance and who
needs him murdered earlier than assist can arrive – he was splendidly acted by Robert
Hayward, who mounted the viewers with an evil scowl from the second he walked on
the stage and by no means let up on the nastiness – and naturally Florestan himself
(Toby Spence), who has to languish unseen till Act Two however makes up for it
with some superb proto-Heldentenor fashion singing.

The orchestra was right down to single
(hardworking!) woodwind, two horns, two trumpets, no trombones, in a rating discount
by Francis Griffin. The refrain on stage was fairly beneficiant for a socially
distanced ensemble lately.

It was good to see Paul Daniel, considered one of
their nice former music administrators, again on the Opera North podium. His sense
of rhythmic propulsion was as enlivening as ever, and he went for some results
(such because the near-inaudible introduction to the Prisoners’ Refrain – itself magnificently
sung by the Opera North males) that have been extremely daring and never all the time rewarded by
the purity of wind intonation that this adaptation of the scoring completely
requires.

Vocal highlights included Rachel Nicholls’ ‘Abscheulicher!’
and ‘Komm’ Hoffnung’, as you may anticipate – superb although the opposite voices are,
hers has a mesmerizing further high quality to it – and naturally ‘O namenlose Freude’
with Toby Spence, and the ultimate quintet, the place every of Fflur Wyn, Oliver
Johnston, Brindley Sherratt and the 2 simply named present their all strengths and
characterisation qualities on the similar time.

 

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