Category Archives: Opera

Die Fledermaus (4th Performance).

Saturday 14th October 2017, and after my superb break in Belfast, visiting Amy and Gareth, I’m back in Cardiff Bay, at the Millenium Centre, for an extra performance of ‘Die Fledermaus’ from the WNO. The final opera of the season, also bringing an end to this years offerings from the company, as the tour moves on from its base in Cardiff. It’s been a fantastic year for the WNO, with some exceptional Opera productions along the way. Looking forward to next years choices already.

Having seen three brilliant productions back in the summer, it’s nice to have it back for one last time.  There are some cast changes for this performance as Rosalinda is played by Judith Howarth, Prince Orlofsky by Anna Harvey, and Colonel Frank played by James Cleverton.

Yet again another masterful performance from the WNO. The singing, the chorus, the orchestra coupled with the comic talents of Steve Speirs, made this a fabulous nights entertainment. Look forward to many more next year.

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Khovanshchina (2nd performance).

Saturday 30th September 2017, and for my evening show I’ve rushed back to the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay for my second performance of ‘Khovanshchina’ from the WNO. Having seen this beautiful opera last weekend for the first time, I am so looking forward to watching this fabulous creation for a second time. I can’t reiterate just how good the music, singing and overall feel of the show is. Such a joy to be able to watch it again.

Today I’d like to concentrate most of this blog on the role of the WNO Chorus, who for me, are one of the best I’ve ever heard. With this production they sing more then ever, and from sitting in this superb auditorium is a chance to listen to sheer perfection. To describe these singers in action is like putting two of the best male and female choirs together, rehearsing for months at a time, then letting them loose to sing together on stage. These guys do this day in day out, with only just over twenty to forty members on stage at any one time, just incredible to listen to. The compactness of the combined voices is unbelievable, you have to be there to fully enjoy the most beautiful singing you will ever hear, the harmonies they produce as a team is quite breathtaking. I was so impressed with everything I’ve heard from this Chorus over the years, they just seem to get better and better.

The other factor to a beautiful opera is of course the music. With the WNO Orchestra, this time under the baton of ‘Tomas Hanus’, playing their hearts out for around three and a half hours, to bring this wonderful music to life, as only they can do. Some of the intricate manoeuvring of various instruments in each piece is quite superb, which in this auditorium, is quite easy to listen to and appreciate , in the way it was written. I  would describe the orchestra as one of the best I’ve ever heard, they are so consistent in every opera I’ve seen, they actually make it look so easy.

As I mentioned last week it’s not only the Chorus and orchestra who are fabulous, the entire cast play their part to perfection also. An amazing opera, and an excellent choice from the management at the WNO.

Eugene Onegin.

Friday 29th September 2017, a well earned day off from work, so spending it in Cardiff Bay, walking around this picturesque part of the Welsh Capital, before getting myself ready for tonight’s Opera at the Millenium Centre, with a viewing of ‘Eugene Onegin’ by Tchaikovsky. Another Opera I have not seen, so not sure what to expect. Although if it’s as good as last weeks ‘Khovanshchina’, then I’m in for another treat tonight.

Moving onto the opera, which tonight, the magnificent WNO Orchestra is conducted by Ainars Rubikis. Yet again fabulous music played to perfection. So beautiful, so relaxing to listen to, with some amazing voices from this talented cast, along with the WNO chorus give no their all yet again. 

I have to impress on the vocal talent of Natalya Romaniw as Tatyana, what a superb voice she has, along with Claudia Huckle, Camilla Roberts, Jason Bridges and Nicholas Lester as Onegin. Although I have to point out that all of the cast are just superb, with stunning voices to match. It’s a pleasure to listen to such a beautiful Opera yet again, perfect in all its grandeur.

A quick mention to the wardrobe department of the WNO, for such wonderful costumes during this performance. Superb, as usual the WNO have done a tremendous job in putting on another fabulous opera.

Khovanshchina.

After last weekend of no show to go to, its Saturday 23rd September 2017, and the start of the WNO autumn season of Operas. Starting with ‘Khovanshchina’ from Musorgsky. Yet another opera I’ve never seen, and if I’m honest with myself, never even heard of. But as usual, the WNO do their best to stimulate their audiences, with different shows, instead of ‘run of the mill’ operas every other company does, which usually work, supplying the viewer with quality opera not often seen. I must admit to watching a few of these operas I’ve never heard of, and been totally engrossed in the whole adventure, loving everything the WNO have done over the last four years.

This performance was no exception, the music was absolutely fantastic, played brilliantly, yet again by this magnificent orchestra, conducted by Tomas Hanus. The principal leads were also outstanding, powerful voices throughout the performance, really hitting the mark. What can I say about the WNO Chorus, tonight they were out of this world, the best I’ve heard, their combined voices were phenomenal, a total joy to listen to.  A beautiful opera, so well done. 

A shorter blog today, but I can sum ‘Khovanshchina’ up in one huge sentence. ‘One of the best Operas I have ever seen’. Can’t wait to see it again, if I get the chance.

Die Fledermaus (3rd performance).

Saturday 24th June 2017, and after a torrid week recovering from the effects of sunstroke, it’s nice to be back at the Millenium Centre here in Cardiff Bay, for my third and final performance of ‘Die Fledermaus’, before it leaves Cardiff to begin its tour.  The two operas on show this season have been immense. Having seen Die Fledermaus three times and Der Rosenkavalier twice. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Louise Alder for her performances as Sophie (Rosenkavalier) and at Cardiff Singer of the World final, where she won the Audience award.  Her singing voice is just stunning, and thouroughly deserves the credit she has. I would love to see her sing again with the WNO in future productions.

A special occasion tonight as we are in the presence of royalty, as Prince Charles is in attendance for the evenings proceedings. 

Tonight, for the third time, I also get to listen to even more stunning vocal performances, with Die Fledermaus, especially the wonderful Mary Elizabeth Williams as Rosalinda and Rhian Lois as Adele. The standard has been incredible throughout this seasons productions, and a massive thank you to everyone involved with the WNO, for making these shows so watchable again and again.

Tonight promises more excellence once again. As well as the magnificent singing on show, I have yet to mention how good the set and lighting has been, again Cardiff Theatrical Services have Surpassed themselves. As the main set builders they always deliver staging to impress. 

Another special mention to the Orchestra an chorus (conducted by Tomas Hanus), who again were just brilliant. So much talent from both disciplines. So enjoyed every performance. The end of another season at the Centre, looking forward to sept/oct for more opera, can’t wait.

Der Rosenkavalier (2nd performance).

Saturday 17th June 2017, and a scorching hot day in Cardiff Bay, where later this evening, I will be at the Millenium Centre, for my second performance of the WNO’s production of Richard Strauss opera ‘Der Rosenkavalier’. Having arrived really early, I’ve taken the opportunity to walk around the Bay a few times today. For me this area is stunning, I love it, with the heat this weekend the Bay is packed. With Army regiments on show for the Queens birthday celebrations and the Celebration of the life of Jo Cox, everyone in the Bay today are just living life to the full. The atmosphere here is incredible, wonderful what a bit of sun on a special occasion can muster up.

Tonight’s opera promises to be something special as well, to go with today’s celebrations.  As this is my second time watching this fabulous opera, I’m still so looking forward to see it.  With the magnificent Rebecca Evans at the helm, this is going to be a class occasion. Once again the singing is phenomenal, so effortless, keeping the standard going for the best part of 4 hours. The ending was again so beautifully done, as usual I cried again, in fact the whole performance was so beautiful. 

The WNO orchestra, who, as they always do, provide excellent musical accompaniment to the evening’s proceedings, bringing so much enjoyment to the assembled audience, with every performance. With a huge applause at the end the whole cast and orchestra richly deserved this fabulous accolade.

A truly fabulous season of opera, with one more to go next weekend, so looking forward to ending on yet another high.

Die Fledermaus (2nd performance).

Sunday 11th June 2017, my weekend of Opera continues this afternoon, with another performance of ‘Die Fledermaus’ at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay, as part of the Welsh National Opera’s summer season. After the brilliant Der Rosenkavalier yesterday, this opera is more on the comic side, with wonderful performances from all the cast, as well as the brilliance of the WNO Orchestra.

I have to mention the magnificent Mary Elizabeth Williams (again) as Rosalinda. It’s a tremendous pleasure to listen to her sing, her voice is just exceptional, and usually brings a tear or two during her performances. With superb back up from Rhian Lois, Emma Carrington, Ben McAteer, Paul Charles Clarke, Mark Stone and Alan Opie, really using their vocal talents to bring this Opera to life. And of course who could forget the brilliant Steve Spiers, who added so much to act 3.

I have to say I really love this comic opera, it’s so well produced, going from strength to strength on every performance. Very upbeat And positively hilarious, a great tonic for a Sunday afternoon. I’m hoping to see it again before it’s run ends in Cardiff. Really can’t wait if I’m honest. 

This weekend has been so amazing, to listen to the quality of voices at the Centre for both operas. It just shows how good the WNO company are, as everything I’ve seen over the past 4 years has just been fantastic.

Der Rosenkavalier.

Saturday 10th June 2017, finally a show to watch tonight after a week off, as Cardiff hosted the Champions League Final. So tonight I’m at the Millenium Centre in the Bay, to watch the Welsh National Opera’s production of ‘Der Rosenkavalier’. The music was written by Richard Strauss, with the text from Hugo Von Hofmansnsthal. 

Tonight we have the welcome return of Rebecca Evans as the Marschallin along with Lucia Cervoni as Octavian. Such wonderful voices from both, filtering into this incredible auditorium, mixing the lyrics and music to perfection.  For me the first act was so beautifully done, it totally relaxed me, (after a hectic week at work), moving through so quickly, I didn’t even realise that 75 minutes of fabulous opera passed in no time at all.

Act two brings another fabulous voice in Louise Alder as Sophie, along with Lucia, it’s once again so beautiful to listen to them sing together during the act.  With the farcical scenes of act 3 brilliantly done as well it leaves us with another beautiful ending with Rebecca, Lucia and Louise singing their hearts out. 

A fantastic opera from start to finish. I also have to mention Brindley Sherratt as Baron Ochs who was exceptional along with the WNO orchestra who, as usual were just superb. A brilliantly powerful opera which I can’t wait to see again next week.

 Die Fledermaus.

The second show of the day is at the Millenium Centre here in Cardiff Bay, with the Welsh National Opera’s  current production of this summer’s season, ‘Die Fledermaus’, from Johan Strauss II. Tonight’s opera, stars one of the greatest voices in world opera at the moment, the Amazing vocal talent of  Mary Elizabeth Williams. It’s brilliant to see her back with the WNO for another season, listening to her sing is heaven to the eardrums. 

The WNO never fail to put on a good show, on everything they do, so tonight should be another belting performance. Tomas Hanus comes in as the new Musical Director of the company and will also make his debut as tonight’s conductor of the fabulous WNO orchestra. 

Tonight has been an incredible comic operatic masterpiece, with some wonderful voices on show. Rhian Lois (Adele), Mark Stone (Eisenstein), Alfred (Paul Charles Clarke), Ben Mcateer (dr Falke), Emma Carrington (Prince Orlofsky) and of course the magnificent Mary Elizabeth Williams (Rosalinde). Not forgetting a special mention to Steve Speirs for his brilliant comic routine in act three, and the WNO Chorus, who, as usual, were superb. 

I have to say the set and lighting were excellent, along with the costumes. Such a joy to sit and watch this performance unfold in front of your very eyes. This Opera is definitely one to watch again and again, so, hopefully I will be back at a later date, for more. 

Madam Butterfly (4th performance).

Saturday 18th February 2017, and would you believe it, I’m back at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay, for my 4th performance of the WNO production of Madam Butterfly. For tonight’s opera we have Karah Son and Jonathan Burton returning as Cio-Cio-San and Pinkerton. I have been greatly impressed by all four of these leading ladies and gents, with each of them giving stand out performances at all occasions I’ve visited

My last few blogs have concentrated on how amazingly brilliant the female leads have been, with Karah, Linda and Rebecca outstanding on every performance I’ve seen so far. So I’m moving onto the male leads today.

As the curtain rises, we have Goro played by Simon Crosby Buttle with Lieutenant Pinkerton played by Jonathan Burton (for last nights  performance Paul Charles Clark played this role). Followed on by David Kempster as Sharpless (the American Consul). Again I was very impressed with the singing voices these gentlemen generated throughout the opera. Mixing well with the female cast members to produce some wonderful tones as the opera progresses. With a good mix of musical ranges (Simon and Jonathan as the two tenors and David a baritone), we have a great opportunity to listen to these performers sing their hearts out. And I must say they do just that.

I also have to mention the WNO Chorus, whose members fill in the rest of the cast, and again are so brilliant in everything they achieve on stage, adding some wonderful harmonies to proceedings, especially in the first act, as we meet Cio-Cio-san’s relatives etc at the wedding party. I’ve always said the chorus of the WNO have to be one of the best you’ll ever hear when visiting any opera company, and they’ve never proved me wrong so far.

Another mention has to go to the wonderful Orchestra of the WNO, who are just phenomenal every time they play. I think I must have mentioned this fact a million times. They also have to be one of the best Orchestras around at this moment in time, playing to near perfection at every opportunity. 

An amazing season of top class opera, which I have enjoyed immensely. I’ve heard some fabulous voices throughout, just beautiful. Tonight, as well, is the last opera performance at the Millenium Centre before the whole season goes on tour. I feel very lucky to have been able to enjoy so many performances of Madam Butterfly and La Boheme while they have been camped at the centre. So I’m looking forward to more offerings at the Centre for the next season in May/June 2017.