Monthly Archives: September 2016

Macbeth (3rd performance).

Saturday 24th September 2016 in Cardiff Bay,for my final viewing of the WNO production of Macbeth at the Wales Millenium Centre. An opera beautifully written by Verdi and performed to perfection by this magnificent company. In my opinion,this is worth watching as many times as possible, I enjoy it every time I see it, and shows just how good this opera company is, producing the goods every season.

Many people have asked me how I can keep watching ‘Shakespeare’, and I keep explaining that this opera is only based on the play, as its music is just brilliant and sung in Italian, which takes the emphasis off the play, giving the audience a new ‘angle’ in which to view the whole experience. With the WNO making their home at the centre, this also adds to the spectacle, with probably the best theatre in Britain at this moment. The acoustics in the main auditorium are second to none, and really aid the singers achieve amazing tones, as they sing their hearts out throughout. We also have a brilliant orchestra located in a huge pit area, purpose built for such occasions.

Having written about this opera twice already, I seemed to have mentioned Mary Elizabeth Williams quite a lot, with good reason. I know I keep going on about this, but when I hear a fabulous voice singing from that huge stage, I have to write about it. Listening to beautiful singing is one of the main reasons I watch shows over and over, it really brings the week to a fitting end, knowing that you can look forward to watching live entertainment so close to home, every weekend after a hard week at work.

On that note we move on to tonight’s performance.  Very impressed again, musically so good,with the WNO orchestra again wonderful value for money, The chorus exquisite, as they always are, at every performance they do. And so onto the principals who again were outstanding. With special mention to Mary Elizabeth Williams and Luis Cansino for two absolutely brilliant performances tonight, with the biggest Cheer of the evening going to Mary, and as usual, totally deserved. An absolutely brilliant evenings viewing again. Looking forward to the next instalment.

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Macbeth (2nd performance).

Saturday 17th September 2016 back at the Millenium Centre in the beautiful,sunny Cardiff bay, for another performance of the Welsh National Opera’s production of Macbeth. Arrived here so early today, taking the opportunity to take a few photo’s around the area and just to chill and relax for a few hours in the fantastic surroundings that is Cardiff Bay.

Really looking forward to tonight’s show and another opportunity to listen to the amazing voice of Mary Elizabeth Williams as Lady Macbeth, along with the rest of the cast and chorus, this makes a very impressive evenings entertainment.  

The sets used by the WNO have been very creative, with tonight’s being no exception. A sloping floor allows hidden characters to appear on stage when needed, with room to hold a large chorus and cast in its surroundings on this huge stage at the Centre. As there are quite a few scene changes throughout, the set layout helps it’s swift changes between scenes, and looks good to go with it.

Yet again another fabulous performance from the whole company. Luis Cansino (Macbeth), and Miklos Sebestyen (Banquo), are just superb,and then we have Lady Macbeth (Mary Elizabeth Williams), who just takes the singing to another level. Truly magnificent and a real joy to listen to. The chorus and orchestra are again brilliant (as usual. I always mention this after every performance, but it’s so true, you have to be there to experience the brilliance of it all). 

Both acts are amazing, and still two shows aren’t enough for me, I have to see this opera yet one more time, while its still in Cardiff. The last one for me is next Saturday, I would urge anyone reading this blog to see this opera, just to hear the fabulous voices on show,and the sheer power of Mary Elizabeth Williams, I can guarantee, you will not be disappointed.

Merchant of Venice.

Friday 16th September 2016 and a day off from work. In Cardiff bay early today, looking to take some photos  around the area, before watching the Welsh National Opera’s production of ‘Merchant of Venice’ at the Millenium Centre. Another opera I have never seen before, so yet again the chance arises to see something new, to add to my growing list of amazing performances at the Centre.

Another Shakespeare play made into an opera with music written by Andre Tchaikowsky and libretto by John O’Brien. I think everyone knows the story of the merchant of Venice, where Bassanio wants money to Persue the wealthy Portia, and enlists the help of Antonio to borrow money off Shylock, who insists that if the money cannot be repaid in time Antonio must forfeit a pound of flesh. When Antonio cannot pay, Portia disguised as a male lawyer defeats Shylock in court, letting Antonio off the hook for his forfeit.

The main cast consists of Antonio (the merchant) played by Martin Wolfel. Bassanio (Antonio’s friend) Mark Le Brocq. Shylock by Lester Lynch and Portia  played by Sarah Castle. The first act is split into two scenes. Scene one is quite dark, and appropriately so,as Antonio and Shylock seal the pact. The music is interspersed with melodic tones and harsher notes as the original play suggests. The end of scene one has Shylocks daughter (Jessica played by Lauren Michelle) escaping Shylocks home to run off with Lorenzo (Bruce Sledge). Scene two is more comical with several suitors at Portia’s home vying for her love, of course Bassanio wins. Fabulous performances from Portia (Sarah Castle) and her companion Nerissa (Verena Gunz) help make this section amazing, leading to the end of act one. 

Act two gives us the infamous courtroom scene where Portia and her companion disguise themselves as lawyers and win through. Another fabulous section of voices from all the cast in that scene. Leading us to the final scene as Portia and Nerissa try to trick their respective husbands. Again some fabulous voices coming through for this scene as well. Credit must also be given to the orchestra, who handled this complicated score with apparent ease. Showing just how brilliant they are every time.

On the whole I really enjoyed the opera. With amazing performances from all the cast, Chorus and orchestra in this fantastic theatre. As usual I’m going home a very happy man. Back tomorrow for more opera. 

   Macbeth (1st performance).

Saturday 10th September 2016, after my excursion to the dizzy heights of the New Theatre, Cardiff. I’m back at the Millenium Centre for my first performance of ‘Macbeth’ from the Welsh National Opera company.  I cannot wait to hear this seasons foray into the world of opera. Having not seen any of these before, it’s another new experience for me, with three more operas to add to the growing list I have seen already.  I would like to see as many different operas as I possibly can over the next decade or so, hopefully seeing them with one of the best companies in the world today. That, of course, would have to be the Welsh National Opera, in my opinion. 

From the start of the opera the music and the singing from the witches and the chorus was just sublime, followed by Macbeth, played by Luis Cansino and Banquo, by Miklos Sebestyen, who were equally amazing. Then, for me, the star voice of the whole opera, Mary Elizabeth Williams as Lady Macbeth. If Carrie Hope Fletcher was the best voice I’d ever heard In a musical, then Mary Elizabeth Williams has to be the best voice I’ve heard in an opera by far. Her control and sheer power of her voice is just magnificent, it made me cry (as usual) just listening to her. At one stage her voice could be heard above that of the chorus and the orchestra, pretty amazing and sheer bliss to hear. 

The opera itself shocked me, as I was not expecting it to be as good as it actually was. I was mesmerised throughout, with amazing performances from all the cast. Not to mention the wonderful WNO Orchestra who again were just superb, under the baton of Andriy Yerkevych. 

Of course Macbeth was written by William Shakespeare, with the music by Guiseppe Verdi, and very pleasing to the ear to go with it. From start to finish this opera commanded my utmost attention, I couldn’t keep my eyes and ears off the stage, even for a split second. It was brilliant. With a fitting ovation at the end for Mary Elizabeth Williams, as the audience appreciated such a wonderful performance with the biggest and loudest cheers of all, and may I say totally deserving. I am definitely watching this show again before it leaves Cardiff for the customery tour. I will probably mention a little bit more about this fantastic opera at the next showing I see. Can’t put everything in this time, won’t have anything new to mention in my next blog.

No Man’s Land.

Saturday 3rd September 2016 and a change of venue for me today. Visiting the New Theatre in Cardiff to watch No Man’s Land, a play by Harold Pinter, starring Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian Mckellen along with Welsh actor Owen Teale and Damien Molony. It’s not very often you get two massively huge theatre stars in the same show and in Cardiff as well, what an honour for the New Theatre to host these famous names. 

I don’t see many plays, I’m mostly musicals and opera, but I need to broaden my horizons, and of course a once in a lifetime opportunity to see two amazing actors in action together, live on the same stage. Just looking at the programme you realise just how much the two sirs have achieved in their lives, with a full page of credits for each of them. So awe inspiring just to be in the same building. And a delightful treat for myself as well.

And so to the show from the start we have Ian Mckellen and Patrick Stewart onstage for the whole first half of the act, with Ian literally talking for most of it, a really impressive vocabulary, and diction. Also to keep the flow going for so long with apparent ease, showing just how much talent there is to behold. Patrick is pretty quiet for that section but still has the ability to act believably drunk throughout. The introduction of Damien and Owen provide a different path that the play takes from that point until the end of act one. A brilliant piece of literary theatre brought to life by four amazing actors. True talent shining throughout.

So on to act two which begins with Ian and Owen in the study, a really funny section with Owen looking like Ray from life on Mars, a little like him to. Moving to a scene with  Patrick entering and reminiscing about the past with dalience a with Ian’s wife. A really impressive second act with Patrick taking up the mantle of main speaker, at least for half the act. With Ian finishing off the dialect with amazing ease. A truly fantastic play with comic undertones throughout. A true masterclass of acting Skills brought to life by a fabulous cast. I have to say I could not fault any of it, and would say that I was totally engrossed throughout. For my first Harold Pinter play I really enjoyed the whole performance. A lot of it was of course down to the brilliant cast assembled on stage (which I’ve aluded to already), just brilliant absolutely brilliant,made my day and just cannot believe what I’ve seen. Never be able to forget this as long as I have breath in my body.