Monday, June 09, 2008

My new OHP production of Donizetti's La Fille du Regiment - Anthony Holden's review from The Observer

"With due respect to the winners - Ralph Kirshbaum's RNCM Manchester International Cello Festival - I was sad not to see Opera Holland Park carry off the Royal Philharmonic Society's Concert Series and Festivals prize at last month's annual RPS Music Awards. Under general manager Michael Volpe and producer James Clutton, OHP has raised its game immeasurably these past few years, introducing well-chosen rarities and rejuvenating standard fare with a judicious mix of established talent and bright young stars in the making. The coveted RPS nomination was in itself handsome public recognition of all they have achieved......

.......The (first night's) surprise sunshine palpably lifted both cast and audience for an exhilarating romp through Donizetti's La Fille du régiment, so infectiously enjoyable that swallows kept swooping through the auditorium as if for passing peeks at William Kerley's witty, tasteful staging, briskly conducted by Robert Dean. The peacocks, too, were back in full squawk as Sarah Pring's forceful Marquise and Graeme Broadbent's Basil Fawlty-like Sulpice offered sturdy support to two young principals surely destined for operatic glory.

The young Korean soprano Hye-Youn Lee sings with such beauty, and acts with such engaging aplomb, as even to evoke memories of Natalie Dessay's landmark performance as Marie at Covent Garden last year. In the Brazilian tenor Luciano Botelho she has a Tonio of natural lyric beauty, and the same easy stage presence, and also blessed with a winning smile. If he cracked on three of those testing nine top Cs in 'Ah, mes amis!', despite the entire audience willing him on, it sounded to me like first-night nerves; I have no doubt he'll pull them off as the run continues, as will the Trovatore cast when the sun shines on them, too."


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