Arias in the Area
MALCOLM MILLER enjoys opera in concert,
sung by Ruti Halvani and Anya Szreter
With so many musical events on in London each night it is heartening to see an innovative
local initiative rewarded with a near-capacity audience. 'Arias in the Area', the catchy
title of a gala concert and reception on 18 September 2003 at Hampstead Town Hall,
North West London, offered a
sumptuous feast of operatic fare accompanied by gastronomic delicacies, the first event
presented by Pennink productions, in association with the caterers 'Delectables' and the
Jewish Music Institute.
Hampstead Town Hall, where Joachim is reputed to have performed
about a century ago, is a recently restored venue which increasingly hosts noteworthy
musical events, and this was a delightful evening from start to finish. The artists, the
Israeli, London-based mezzo-soprano Ruti Halvani, the talented British soprano Anya Szreter
and pianist Rachel Fuller, originally from New Zealand, were in fine form for their
brightly mixed programme of Italian, Russian French, American and Yiddish songs and duets.
In the operatic first half the popular highlights included the passionate 'Flower duet'
from Madame Butterfly and the sweetly precocious 'Via resti Servita', Marcellina and
Susanna's duet from Mozart's Marriage of Figaro. Ruti Halvani, the Israeli opera
singer currently based in London, gave evocative interpretations of Granados's plangent
La Maja Dolorosa, the mellow melody accompanied by the piano's guitar-like textures,
and a suitably seductive 'Seguidilla' from Bizet's Carmen, as well as richly
resonant Russian songs by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov. In the latter's Spring Waters
Rachel Fuller allowed the rushing river of piano passagework full rein.
Copyright © 23 September 2003
Malcolm Miller, London UK