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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.

Ruti Halvani
Ruti Halvani

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.

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Copyright © 23 September 2003 Malcolm Miller, London UK


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