Sunday, 30 January 2011

Idomeneo, Opus Opera

This one-off performance of Mozart's cracking opera seria, Idomeneo, was produced by the most recent of small, budding companies to put on complete performances of operas at suitable (or at least sympathetic) London venues. Opus Opera is the work of two of the singers and the performance was designed to prioritise the music-making; no staging but a modest orchestra. This is the best alternative, I feel, for young singers wanting to try out roles and show themselves off and the performance reflected this with pretty good singing all round. The nicely spun out bel canto from Ed Saklatvala (Idamante) and Michael Solomon Williams (Arbace) were a good foil for the sheer power of Ben Thapa's eponymous king Idomeneo. Thapa makes him a bear of a character, wrestling with his fateful dilemma even within the constraints of the concert performance. Rebecca Henning, as one of the company's instigators, had clearly cherry-picked her role and she offered a sweet-and-even-toned Ilia. I was most impressed by Kirstin Sharpin's rich, accurate Elettra, providing a credible threat to Henning's charm.

A capable chorus joined the group for the not insignificant ensembles and the step-out roles were assuredly taken. Overall, frayed edges were, perhaps, inevitable for a group that had probably come together with little time and money but I suspect that willpower and the support of the venue, Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Square, were no little part in helping to make the evening a success.

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