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Julie Unwin, in the title role, is a lyric soprano who has sung Tosca (in a reduced orchestration) for ETO. She is not a bel canto specialist but her voice displayed a significant number of requirements for the role. She took a little time to warm up, but by the time we came to her mad scene, her passage work was delicate, accurate and expressive. She sang the role with a good sense of line, but did not always use the complicated passage work to expressive ends, something a singer must learn in the type of music. Her voice tended to hardness at the very top and her acuti lacked the relaxed freedom they need, but this was the only real drawback. She made a touching and noble Anna, perhaps a little too impassive in the opening scenes. But she was dramatic and pathetic (in the right way) as the opera drew to its close. You felt this was an intelligent artist singing a role which is not necessarily central to her fach but making an excellent job of it.

Luicano Botelho (Percy) and Julie Unwin (Anne Boleyn)
Luicano Botelho (Percy) and Julie Unwin (Anne Boleyn)

With the young Brazilian tenor Luciano Botelho as Riccardo Percy, Unwin was paired with a singer most definitely in a role central to his fach. Botelho sang Percy with passion and brilliance and good care for Donizetti's vocal line. He uses fioriture in an expressive way and shows a good willingness to sing quietly (always a good sign in young tenors). He was dramatically willing as well, not content to just stand and sing. He and Unwin made a fine pair, she buttoned up and reluctant to admit her love, he all passionate commitment, throwing discretion to the winds. Percy is a killer role, sitting very high, and Botelho seemed to tire a little towards the end of the evening. But he never admitted defeat, and when he settles into the role during this run he will be unbeatable.

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Copyright © 15 March 2008 Robert Hugill, London UK


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