Adversity sometimes brings unexpected opportunity. In this case the requirements of social distancing was overcome by Opera Holland Park by borrowing free standing chairs from other companies and creating a very relaxed, informal setting for the audience to enjoy the Young Artists’ performance of Figaro. Of course, it means far smaller audiences than usual but it adds a feeling of almost being in the Almaviva palace as the plots twists and turns.
The audience loved being back at the opera and showed their delight in these bright and enthusiastic performances from the young performers in this the tenth anniversary of Opera Holland Park’s Young Artists Scheme. However, with one young singer sadly unable to perform we had the enjoyment of the Figaro from the main production, Ross Ramgobin (below).
Placement of characters is perfectly judged throughout. Of course, the fact that the world actually goes dark as the opera progresses meshes perfectly with the nocturnal complexities of the final act, enhanced here by the use of torches onstage. The singer gave a cheeky ‘Se vuol ballare’ that contrasted with the gorgeous ‘Tutto è tranquillo e placido’ showing his acting and vocal diversity and range.
There are plenty of names to watch out for judging from this performance, not least is Welsh soprano Siân Dicker (below standing with Charlotte Bowden sitting) singing The Countess, vocally probably the opera’s most exposed role. The Guildhall graduate sang an absorbing and sensuous ‘Porgi, amor’ and ‘Dove sono’ that require both beautiful and technically accomplished singing.
Charlotte Badham was a disarming, cheeky Cherubino full of whimsy and singing charm. The Count Almaviva was performed with power and interpretation from Jacob Phillips while Charlotte Bowden sang a Susanna of great promise and delight. For acting enthusiasm and masses of presence full marks to Guy Withers as Don Basilio and Don Curzio.
Isabella Peters grabbed our attention in the smaller role of Barbarina, main image with Charlotte Badham, and gave one of the sparkling performances of the evening. Our scheming Marcellina and rather hapless Bartolo were sung and played well with much characters by Hannah Bennett and Alex Jones while Henry Grant Kerswell made much of the comic gem of gardener Antonio.
The City of London Sinfonia may be small and jewel like yet under Lada Valešová we were gifted an evening of Mozart’s heart-lifting score, prepared by Jonathan Lyness of Mid Wales Opera renown, of a richly high standard.
Further performance June 26