Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Pinchgut L'Amant Jaloux

Musically and vocally glorious : here's my Artshub review http://performing.artshub.com.au/news-article/reviews/performing-arts/lynne-lancaster/lamant-jaloux-250062 Monday 7 December, 2015 Great fun with terrific performances and a rare chance to see this now almost never performed opera. Alexandra Oomens (Isabelle) Jessica Aszodi (Jacinte) and Celeste Lazarenko (Léonore); photo by Prudence Upton. As usual, this enchanting performance by Pinchgut was fabulously sung. Erin Helyard and the Orchestra of the Antipodes gave a splendid performance at times lush and sensuous at others light, crisp and delicate. Gretry’s bubbly, light tres Francais score, with its hints of early Mozart (yet written a decade before Mozart began composing) was first performed in 1778/9. With its quite weak plot, the opera is still full of elegant music, some of it quite demanding technically. Mention must be made of the instrumental entr'actes – a delightful mandolin solo for the scene change in-between Act1 and 2 by Stephen Lalor and the extended Baroque flute solo ( by Melissa Farrow) against a very romantic, starry background. There is rather minimalist staging – one set for the entire opera, with a slide out bed, tables, chairs and other hand props, (a ladder, dusters, brooms, fans, extraneous clothes, etc) and detachable curtains on the large window stage right as well as assorted necessary nooks, crannies and doors. The ‘outside courtyard’ for Act 3 is represented by a single ‘tree’, in a wheelbarrow. I also quite liked the use of the blizzard of rose petals in Act 3. The stunning period costumes by Christie Milton are also magnificent and tiny Alexandra Oomens as Isabelle looks like a Dresden shepherdess. The plot is typical of opera of the period, including a series of mistaken identities, lovers tiffs and stormy reconciliations, serenades to the wrong woman, a dominating father and a last minute twist putting all to rights. The small, excellent cast of six have to be trilingual and as the dialogue is spoken in English ​and the arias sung in French (with subtitles). ​This is at first a bit disconcerting. David Greco as Don Lopez was in fine form and splendid, pure yet deep voice as the pompous, self-centered and controlling almost villainous father. Jessica Aszodi as Jacinte was a nosy fusspot making wry comments about her betters and the opening almost sarcastic dialogue between her and her employer Don Lopez was one of the more humorous moments. Celeste Lazarenko, as Léonore was given many reasons to show her pearl like purity of tone, blended with a great vocal control for both coloratura fireworks and soft pianissimo. Ed Lyon as Don Alonze, the eponymous 'jealous lover', piratical in his black and gold bandana, was feverishly passionate with a splendid clean tone – the duets for him and Leonore are particular highlights. Deliciously handsome and French to the hilt, Andrew Goodwin as Florival caught terrifically his magnified sense of honour and his love-struck desperation - the off-stage aria Tandis que tout sommeille at once delicate, ravishing and delightful. Alexandra Oomens as Isabelle is enchanting and her arias were very poignant and touching. Great fun with terrific performances and a rare chance to see this now almost never performed opera. Rating: 3½ stars out of 5 L'amant Jaloux by André Grétry Directed by Chas Rader-Shieber City Recital Hall | 2-12 Angel Place Sydney 3 – 8 December 2015

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