Review – A Night at the Opera 2

Mayfair Theatre
28 May 2011
Conductor: Dave Burchell
Guests: Emma Fraser, Jason Balla

Night of opera hits leaves audience keen for more

A near capacity house did not really want their Night at the Opera at the Mayfair to come to an end.

The programme of well-known hits from operas was presented by the St Kilda Brass Band and guest soloists soprano Emma Fraser and tenor Jason Balla and directed by David Burchell. All performed very well.

The band is in top shape, executing both exquisitely soft passages and full-bodied blasts with apparent ease. Burchell directed them, it seemed as if they were an orchestra with strings attached, with surprisingly good effect.

Emma Fraser is also in fine form. Her voice matures well and she has always had a great dramatic presence. Balla is also an accomplished singer, though not quite as at home as Fraser. Their duets were especially convincing.

All items were performed exceptionally well, and the arrangers of orchestral works for brass all did a creditable job. Though the balance between brass and voice was consistently good, audibility of the singers over the brass at full volume was greatly assisted by microphones.

Notable items included “Bei Maennern” (The Magic Flute), in which the soloists’ voices blended beautifully; “O mio babbino caro” (Gianni Schicchi); “Seguidilla” (Carmen); “Overture: Il Barbiere di Siviglia” (The Barber of Seville); “Granada” (Fantasia Espanola); “Pilgrim Chorus” (Tannhauser); “Summertime” (Porgy and Bess); and “Song to the Moon” (Rusalka).

Sadly, “Younger than Springtime” (South Pacific) just slipped below the standard of the others. It deserves to have more time spent on the play with words – there being so few of them.

However, two items deserve to be singled out for all the right reasons. “Overture: Candide” is a wonderful romp through several time changes and other disjointed rhythms. It was performed with excellence.

The final item, “All I Ask of You” (The Phantom of the Opera), is testament to just how good popular music can be rousing, uplifting, heart warming and excellently performed.

St Kilda Brass at the Mayfair, Saturday, May 28
Marian Poole

Review taken from the Otago Daily Times (May 30, 2011)

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