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<<  -- 4 --  Robert Hugill    STYLISH AND MEMORABLE

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As Lord Leicester, Adrian Dwyer was a little problematic. He has all the notes and is the possessor of a lyric tenor voice. But his voice lacks the depth needed for this sort of role, too often he sounded far too young; giving the impression of being a whining teenager rather than a troubled adult. Dwyer knows what to do in this type of music, so I hope that he can develop his voice to fill the role. Leicester should be imbued with a confident swagger, but Dwyer's persona was more that of a diffident young man.

Janice Kelly (Elizabetta) and Adrian Dwyer (Lord Leicester) in the Grange Park Opera production of 'Maria Stuarda'. Photo © 2005 Alastair Muir
Janice Kelly (Elizabetta) and Adrian Dwyer (Lord Leicester) in the Grange Park Opera production of 'Maria Stuarda'. Photo © 2005 Alastair Muir

The two supporting roles of Talbot and Lord Cecil are rather underwritten, they are little more than ciphers in their schematic roles; the one supporting Elizabetta, the other Maria Stuarda. By engaging two artists as strong as Jonathan Best (Talbot) and Quentin Hayes (Lord Cecil), Grange Park ensured that these small but important roles were taken as strongly as possible. Best and Hayes have been singing heavier roles, but both were adept at giving Donizetti's music the sense of line that it needs; something that too often gets neglected when heavier bass voices sing this music.

The young and enthusiastic chorus was on better form than in previous years at Grange Park. Conductor Sergio La Stella was efficient and kept everything bubbling along. But in a theatre where chorus and orchestra are brought together from scratch for a few weeks each year, I felt he could have done much more to imbue the performance of both with style and sophistication, with more of an Italianate sense. This is where Grange Park Opera needs some work. The new theatre is now well run in and they have created some stylish productions within it; casts and directors are generally of a fine standard, and rarely less than creditable. But the chorus and orchestra tend to lack the style and sophistication that such operas need; too often they sound cautiously efficient.

The theatre at Grange Park is an ideal size for early 19th century Italian Romantic Opera and in Maria Stuarda the company gave us a stylish and memorable evening. I do hope that Wasfi Kani continues to mine this entrancing vein.

Copyright © 23 June 2005 Robert Hugill, London UK

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There are two further performances of Grange Park Opera's Maria Stuarda: 5.20pm on Monday 27 June and 5.20pm on Tuesday 5 July 2005, both at Grange Park in Hampshire, UK. Grange Park Opera's 2005 Festival also includes performances of Don Giovanni, L'Elisir d'amore and South Pacific, and from 9 July, performances continue at Nevill Holt in Leicestershire.

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