Magazine article Musical Opinion

National Opera Studio Showcase

Magazine article Musical Opinion

National Opera Studio Showcase

Article excerpt

This year's National Opera Studio Showcase, celebrating 30 years of its invaluable training of young singers, was presented at Hackney Empire on 5 June. The programme consisted of the second acts from three operas Don Giovanni, The Rake's Progress and The Cunning Little Vixen, instead of the sequence of short scenes given formerly. Daniel Slater directed; Leslie Travers designed the adaptable set, combining a bar that served in all three operas and his costumes updated the action to the present.

Act II of Don Giovanni, which took up the first half, provided substantial fare and an element of novelty in that they sang the Vienna version, which includes the rarely-performed scene where Zerlina ties up and torments Leporello for his misdeeds, but omitted the final chorus, and ended with Elvira stabbing Giovanni to death. The sense of violence ready to erupt could be felt from the opening scene where Giovanni, in grey topper and tails, and - Leporello, his uniformed sidekick, returning from one adventure lurched into a bar before embarking on the next conquest. The two were vocally well-contrasted, Dawid Kimberg's fleet-baritone suiting the smooth-talking seducer, Ronald Nairne's dark-toned bass urging Leporello's attempts to restrain his master's excesses, for which he narrowly escaped Zerlina's revenge. Their encounter exuded real menace as enacted by the strongly characterised Zerlina of Katja Webb, and was followed by the scarcely contained rage of Elvira's knife -wielding taunting of Leporello during her aria Mi tradi, vehemently sung by Elizabeth Donovan. Only Katherine Broderick's Donna Anna emerged from the mayhem with any serenity, and after the berating of Robert Anthony Gardiner's Ottavio her Non mi dir glowed with warm emotion and every note beautifully in place. David Parry obtained stylish playing from the Royal Ballet Sinfonia and a good balance between pit and stage. …

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