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<<  -- 3 --  Malcolm Miller    VERISMO AL FRESCO


The lion's share of the evening was, however, Canio's, with his first jealousy aria and later the famous anguished outpouring. Irakli Grigalashvilii certainly looked the role and his thrilling performance in the last scene was arresting, the famous motto gaining in intensity each time. Nicoletta Conti's conducting displayed great charisma and control, eliciting some excellent sounds from the orchestra, including Robert Bailey's eloquent cello solos during the Nedda-Silvio love duet and its allusive equivalent in the acted commedia dell'arte sequence. A highpoint was the famous 'Intermezzo' during which Nedda silently watched a tender farewell scene from the film -- well chosen to echo her planned elopement with Silvio. Conti's emphasis of dramatic sweep was rewarded with stirring playing from the strings and brass sections, as well as colourful harp (Suzie Willison) and timpani (Chris Ridley) at moments of lyricism or ominous suspense.

Geraint Dodd as Canio. Photo: Michael Volpe
Geraint Dodd as Canio.
Photo: Michael Volpe

There was humour too. The play was introduced with the town band sequence and the choruses all fizzed with 'schwung', much credit due also to the children's chorus of W11 Opera. In the dénouement, the theatrical performance is interrupted as Canio brushes aside the dinner table at which his wife and actor-lover are engaged -- using a pistol to kill both Nedda and Silvio. In the event Leoncavallo rounds things off swiftly, with almost no time to assimilate the dramatic turn of events, a double crime de passion. The orchestra rose to a welling climax, and the show was over.

Opera Holland Park's interval is only a quarter of the length of Glyndebourne's, but the artistic experience in this landscaped-opera setting at its best may be as refreshing and uplifting, a boon for London audiences, even (as on this occasion) in the rain. The artistic standards certainly aim high and the enterprising productions offer a valuable showcase for young vocal and acting talent. The season, in association with Classic FM, began with Bizet's Les pecheurs de perles (11-22 June 2002) and continues with Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur (9-27 July), Puccini's La Rondine (11-26 July), Mozart's Don Giovanni (30 July- 10 August).

Copyright © 11 July 2002 Malcolm Miller, London, UK



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