Review: Rochdale Music Society’s Opera Gala evening
Date published: 14 March 2011
Enthusiasm knew no bounds for neither artistes nor audience as an Opera Gala evening organised by Rochdale Music Society got into full swing on Saturday (12 March 2011) in the Heywood Civic Centre.
From Bizet to Bernstein, Carmen to West Side Story, creaming off some of the best arias, duets and other ensembles of the musical stage and has become a much appreciated source music-making and receiving in recent years.
A joy to perform for singers of quality with an eye as well as an ear for what can be sequenced in the concert hall. A delight for audiences of discernment and imagination. No stage trappings are needed to attract, or be enticed into the always exotic and frequently erratic world of emotional display that such occasions encapsulate. A richly satisfying experience is almost certainly guaranteed, without needing to have recourse to the latest display technologies.
So it was on this occasion. The members of Opera Gala, Emma Johnston (soprano), Helen Sherman (Mezzo-soprano), Richard Pollock (Tenor) and Oliver Dunn (Baritone) all put their developing voices and sense of place and purpose to full use. They were judiciously accompanied by Malcolm Forbes-Peckham (piano) in a wide-ranging programme that included favourites from Europe’s and North America’s composers covering three centuries of their most memorable productions.
Mozart, Bizet, Donizetti, Offenbach, Puccini, Verdi, Rossini, Leoncavallo - all were featured in a carefully structured offering of critical and turning-point moments in the course of true love which is usually the subject of such music. Add to these the equally substantial contributions of Sullivan, Victor Herbert, Rodgers and Bernstein and you have a near perfect formula for success.
All that is needed, perhaps, on such an almost breath-taking occasion is a champagne moment, and such was provided as the singers came together to make their final item Strauss’s “Champagne Chorus” – a rousing climax to an evening that brought rapturous applause from the appreciative audience.
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