Monday, January 30

Opera Beneath the Stars – Liverpool Theatre Festival

The Liverpool based company Absolute Opera presented this night of glorious and mesmerising operatic classics at The Royal Court Theatre Studio.

Originally the gala concert was going to take place in the Bombed Out Church but due to adverse weather conditions and with just 3 hours’ notice, the venue was changed to the Royal Court Studio.

All credit to the production team headed by Bill Elms that they managed to get this magnificent show back on track with very little time to spare.

The show featured the talents of Tenor Roy Locke (Opera Australia and also creative director for Absolute Opera), Mezzo Soprano Lilly Papaioannou (Glyndebourne) and Soprano Leigh Rhianon Coggins (Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company). They were accompanied on piano by the excellent Danish musician Per Neilsen.

As an introduction to opera this concert ticked all the boxes.

The gala covered various genre of opera and musical theatre including Grand Opera (Tchaikovsky, Puccini, Bizet), Operetta (Gilbert &Sullivan, Lehar) and some modern musical hits thrown into the mix including the beautiful Summertime from Porgy & Bess and the sharply funny Poisoning Pigeons in the Park (don’t ask !!)  –  indeed, there was such a vast array of musical treats throughout the evening to please even the most ardent of opera fans.

Locke and his company cleverly interwove some familiar classics with less well-known pieces and the balance really did work.

All three soloists were on top form throughout the evening and the quality of their voices simply exquisite. I was truly and utterly transfixed.

Locke performed an extraordinarily powerful and emotional rendition of Kuda/Kuda – Lenksi’s aria from Tchaikovsky’s wonderful Eugene Onegin, whilst Coggins gave us a beautifully precise and charming performance of Vilija from Franz Lehar’s operetta The Merry Widow and Papaioannou gave us a vibrant and energetic Carmen with the fabulous Habenera.

There were a few little hitches on the technical side but that did not spoil the evening and it was entirely understandable given the fact that they had set it up without very little notice, so once again, congratulations to the production team.

It was a night of greatest hits that’s for sure with a few extra special musical treats and a dash of humour thrown in as well.

Standing ovations and encores, we cheered and wanted more.

This was indeed a real night at the opera.

Reviewer: Kiefer Williams

Reviewed: 9th September 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★