Wednesday, 7 30
The Music House,
St Mary's College,
For your Diary
Our next production - an operatic double bill:
Prince Orlofsky's Ball
Friday 13 April
Holy Trinity Hall
* * *
Saturday 14 April
Heswall Hall Telegraph Rd, Heswall
* * *
Friday 20 April
Mossley Hill Church
* * *
Saturday 21 April
St Mary's College Crosby
L23 5 TW
For further information,
Click on "Future Events" above,
Phone 0151 558 1552
* for Heswall,
phone 0151 342 2614
APRIL 2016 P.I.Tchaikovsky’s
Because "Eugene Onegin" had two casts for several important roles, NODA very kindly sent two separate reviewers.
Fortunately they were in agreement about the performance of the cast and chorus,and each agreed that all the singers, especially Heather and Louise who shared the very demanding part of Tatyana, were superb.
Eugene Onegin – Opera Viva – 15.4.16
Before I begin on this specific production I just want to say how very much I admire and respect this group who present fully staged and costumed grand operas in the most ‘ordinary’ venues and ‘tour’ with their current production to 4 or 5 different venues over a period of 2 -3 weeks. For example I saw this current production in Holy Trinity Church Hall in Southport and the day afterwards they present the same show in a school hall in Liverpool. In this way, they are bringing grand opera, sung in English, to a wide variety of people who would otherwise have little or no access to it, at affordable prices and in a language they immediately understand. As if that were not challenge enough, they often double cast some of the roles, in this production no fewer than 5 roles were double cast – so giving as many as possible a chance to perform as soloists.
All this sounds as if I am going to go on to say that the production was somewhat below par when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. It is true to say that the ‘staging’ is, by necessity, rather basic, but the singing is everything you could possibly expect (and more) from any opera company wherever they are performing, the singers I was privileged to hear would not have disgraced any theatre, amateur or professional, the length and breadth of the country. Added to that and enhancing the production enormously, the acting was similarly impressive so that if we did ‘miss’ the words the acting made their meaning more than clear.
They are accompanied by a piano and, whilst the music of Tchaikovsky does lend itself wonderfully to an orchestra, so talented was the pianist, Robert Chesters, that it certainly did not suffer. I must also mention the M.D., Marco Bellasi, who was conducting; his passion for the music was so apparent that he became very much a part of the whole production.
This was an opera I was totally unfamiliar with - however I left at the end of the evening with a firm grasp on the story (having been considerably humbled by the standard of the wonderful singing) which I had thoroughly enjoyed, as a total piece of theatre, telling a story from beginning to end, with all the high drama of a duel and unrequited love thrown in for good measure and I heard and understood the vast majority of the words – what could be better?
Regular readers of my reviews will know that it is rare that I mention any performer by name. In this case, however, I feel I must make an exception – although all the singers ranged from good to excellent, Heather Heighway (who played Tatyana on the night I attended) was simply superb. This was a huge role which she performed (both singing and acting) excellently – thank you.
I must also mention the chorus – the sound from the back of the hall in Act 1 was simply breath-taking – real ‘hairs on the back of the neck’ wonderful.
There is really nothing further I can say – I want to mention more of the principals but to do so would be grossly unfair to any I missed out – suffice it to say you all did a wonderful job and thank you SO much for a simply wonderful evening, and for making me so very welcome.
Eugene Onegin 16.4.16
I was privileged to see the second performance of Eugene Onegin presented by Opera Viva and I would like wholeheartedly to agree with the above review. I was invited to see this performance as a number of the principal roles were to be played by alternative cast members during Opera Viva’s four-night tour. I would like to mention Louise Geatch who gave an excellent performance as Tatyana, her acting and singing was superb and due to the closeness of the audience to the singers you could easily see the myriad of feelings and the conflicts her character was going through. As my colleague highlighted above, I would like to have mentioned more of the principals, but I would not like to miss anyone out, but all the principals did a very good job acting and singing admirably with good diction and clarity of words meaning the audience could follow the story easily. There was also some lovely spine tingling singing from the chorus who supported the principal cast well.
As previously mentioned due to the limitations of the venue, scenes were set with the use of props which was more than adequate and effective, and costumes also enhanced and fitted the production well.
This was an excellent evening’s entertainment, listening to wonderful singing and watching superb acting. I firmly believe that Opera should be more accessible to everyone and Opera Viva are fulfilling this belief. Well done to Producer David Palmer, Assistant Producer Jim Craig and Chorus Master Isobel Jenkins and all involved in this production Thank you very much for inviting us and making us very welcome. We look forward to seeing you for your next production
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The Merry Widow
The Merry Widow
Produced by Jim Craig
Musical Director Isobel Jenkins
The Merry Widow is an operetta with music written by the Austro-Hungarian composer Franz Lehar and the librettists Viktor Leon and Leo Stein. It is based on an 1861 comedy play, L'attaché d'ambassade (The Embassy Attaché) by Henri Meilhac. The story centres on a rich widow Anna Glavari, and the attempt by her fellow countrymen to keep her money in their principality by finding her a new husband from their country.
This was a very enjoyable production of the “Merry Widow”. Opera Viva has once again produced some very fine singing and acting with some excellent performances from the talented cast, which included two very fine separate interpretations of the double cast role of Anna Glavari (The Widow) in the shape of Pam Ashcroft and Clare Hyams, who each brought their individual strengths and skills to the role. David Palmer was excellent as always in the role of Anna’s love interest the man about town Count Danilo and Heather Heighway has a lovely singing voice and was outstanding as the coquettish Valencienne. Mark Rawlinson brought his trustworthy acting talent to the part of Valencienne’s husband Baron Zeta which resulted in a very comedic double act with Brian Williams as Njegus his secretary who had superb comic timing and great facial expressions. Neil Alcock was very good as Camille de Rosillon Valencienne's lover and Eric Cymbir and Peter McColgan in the supporting roles of Cascada and St Brioche both gave very dependable and funny performances. The remaining smaller roles produced some nice characterization and they were also very supportive of the previously mentioned principle cast. The chorus sang very well throughout, however some members appeared rather unsure when it came to the movement, but all the cast worked hard with energy and enthusiasm and all appeared to be enjoying themselves immensely. Generally diction, clarity of voice and pace was just right which meant the audience could follow the story easily.
The company was accompanied superbly by Robert Chesters on the piano and they performed under the very capable baton of Musical Director Isobel Jenkins.
Once again as is usual with Opera Viva the set was minimalistic, the platform to perform on and the atmosphere for the action was achieved through an effective use of props. Costumes were lovely and very colourful, well thought out and just right for the period, they also enhanced the production.
Congratulations to Producer Jim Craig and to all involved in bringing this enjoyable entertaining production to the stage, including front of house. My colleagues and I thoroughly enjoyed our visits. I look forward to your next production
Opera Viva Celebrate French Triumph.
October 25th is a date resonant in Anglo French history : Agincourt 1415, the second Battle of Cap Finisterre 1747 and in 2014 "Vive la France" Opera Viva's celebration of French Music and Food- all of them Triumphs for our side of La Manche.
An appreciative audience enjoyed a hearty French meal, followed by a vocal concert ranging from French Grand Opera by Gounod, Saint Saens, and Offenbach, to Edith Piaf and Charles Trenet, and concluding with a thrilling medley from Les Miserables.
Other highlights included songs and arias by Poulenc, Delibes and Bizet (born October 25th 1838) and a lively chorus from “The Bold Gendarmes”.
Thank you to all our regular supporters who came to this, and many of our other productions.
Vive La France received the prize for "Best Concert" in the NODA District 6 Awards Ceremony. It was also one of four events nominated for the North West Awards!
Opera Viva, finished their season in style with their concert "Viva Verdi!" held at St Mary’s College, Crosby, their home base.
The concert opened with the famous ”Brindisi” – the drinking song from ”La Traviata”, in which the audience were invited to join in the singing, and in drinking a toast of sparkling wine with the company.
The concert continued with sizable extracts from “Rigoletto”, “Macbeth”, “Il Trovatore”, and arias from “A Masked Ball”, Otello” “La Forza del Destino”, finishing with spectacular extracts from “Aida” and “Nabucco” – in all, 9 of Verdi’s 30 operas were represented.
The special guest star was Manchester based soprano, Lorna Rushton who sang the role of Lady Macbeth, and prize winning pianist Robert Chesters was the accompanist.
When the overall standard of performance was so high, it would not be fair to single out individual performers, but it was impressive that in a chorus of 26 singers, 18 were soloists in this most demanding operatic repertoire, especially since the members of the company come from all walks of life and have a wide range of musical training and backgrounds.
After their AGM on Wednesday 23rd July at St Mary’s, the company will be taking a break until September when they will begin rehearsals for their popular Concert with Supper on October 25th “This year will be a “Fête à la Française” when the music and food will have a French flavour.
For details of performances and how to become a part of the company:
Phone: 07732 207317