Tonight, I had the absolute pleasure of viewing ALLO Opera’s inaugural recorded Opera Gala. We find ourselves in a time when live performances are scant so any opportunity to enjoy a fantastic evening of singing is to be grasped with both hands. Of course, with the current climate, social distancing is the order of the day and I was delighted to find that the performers found a perfect way to maintain the 3-meter rule for singers to make sure everyone was safe.
Ross Cumming took first performance and also doubled up as a more than capable compare for the evening. His rich tone and strength of voice complimented the Mendelssohn Elijah piece, Lord God of Abraham, and it was sung with a great reverence and sensitivity. He presented a totally different tone for Ach wir Armen Leute from Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel, portraying the drunken singing with immense character and his comedic timing was on point.
Next to perform was Olivia Rose Tringham, a powerful and dynamic young artist. Olivia started with an incredibly expressive rendition of Wie Du Warst from Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier. Her performance was bright and youthful and her voice both shimmery and full; perfect for the role of Octavian. Her second piece was a stark contrast to the first, singing an emotive Voi Lo Sapete from Mascagni’s Cavaleria Rusticana. Olivia was able to express the tragedy of the piece with her performance and her voice, producing piercing high notes and sparkly pianissimo moments that definitely makes her an artist to watch.
Liam Karai then took to the stage with all the swagger his pieces demanded. Commanding attention at all times, he presented a strong Figaro in Non più andrai by Mozart and Toreador from Bizet’s Carmen. Liam’s cheeky, bravado filled performance and warm bass-baritone voice was everything you need for both characters.
Finally, a truly moving performance by Michelle Law. Her Ave Maria from Verdi’s Othello was performed with a stillness that showed the extreme vulnerability of the character and her voice was powerful and floating in all the right places. This was followed up with Song to the Moon from Dvořák’s Rusalka which was expressive and powerful, a role I’m sure she is destined to sing during her career. Overall, she showed extreme maturity in her voice and her performance, provoking emotion in every phrase.
The four performers then joined forces for Candide’s Make Our Garden Grow by Bernstein, a common end to opera galas, but no wonder it’s a popular choice. Collectively, the voices complimented each other, but the ensemble singing wasn’t truly balanced, most likely due to the social distancing measures.
They were all excellently supported on piano by Chris Pulleyn, a junior fellow répétiteur at the RNCM. Chris is an exquisite pianist who plays with passion and precision, intuitively moving with the singers. His understanding of the arias and the needs of the singers shone through his playing.
I couldn’t leave this review without mentioning the technical aspects. The concert was recorded by ALLO Sound. The sound quality in the recording was some of the best I’ve heard outside the bigger opera houses and really made you feel as if you’re in the room.
Visuals have been handled by AJP Video and this was a real refreshing take on concert recording. Whilst the camera was slightly shaky at times, the fact that the camera was free from the shackles of a tripod and moved around the performers gave a more modern, relaxed feel which was in keeping with all the performances. Being close in on the pianist’s hands during instrumental sections was a lovely addition and give audience members something that they ordinarily don’t get to see.
In all, this was magnificent evening entertainment and I enjoyed it immensely. ALLO are taking Opera and bringing it into the now as the arts are looking for alternative means of performance and keeping artists in work. The future of opera is exciting and I, for one, cannot wait to see ALLO Opera’s next performance. Watch this space.
Reviewer: Andrew Lee
Reviewed: 28th November 2020
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★