Music and Vision homepage 'Elgar and Chivalry' by Robert Anderson - available now from Elgar.org

 

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A shift to white-grey light and three simple overhanging branches created a sensibly-framed set for Act III. Here, at last, the main leads, Fritz and Suzel, recovered. Watts (who has just won a two year scholarship to the Benjamin Britten International Opera School, which should help to hone his skills) delivered a radiant aria as Fritz, secure on high notes, which suggests he might be nursed and cajoled into a respectable Bazilio or Ferrando, even if his stance -- essential to a rising young opera singer -- looked vapid. However he also has tangible pathos, an asset he might draw on to advantage in new work as well as traditional set-piece opera.

Catriona Clark (Suzel) and Nicholas Watts (Fritz)

Clark's Suzel, though well-meaning, came across rather pallidly at the outset, with a thinnish voice and a lack of acting skills. But her cello-led opening-up in Act III, both recitative and aria, splendidly lit by scissoring spotlights, was quite a success, and the drama of Act III overall proved resoundingly superior to what had preceded. The final plot coup, in which the Rabbi revokes his won bet by returning Fritz's Alsatian vineyard to Suzel as a dowry, was charming (albeit not lucid enough), and the closing bars, with oboe and strings chirruping like an Italian town band, made a cheerful roundoff.

Mark Chaundy as Rabbi David in the Opera Omnibus 2002 production of Mascagni's L'Amico Fritz

 

Copyright © 8 March 2002 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK

 

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