Category Archives: Opera

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.

Madam Butterfly (3rd performance).

Friday 17th February 2017, another day off work for a visit to Cardiff Bay, and the Millenium Centre for my 3rd performance of the WNO production of Madam Butterfly.  A really beautiful opera, that’s packed with amazing voices and a wonderful score, (played to perfection by the brilliant WNO Orchestra).

For tonight’s performance we have the role of Cio-Cio-San (Madam Butterfly) played by Linda Richardson. With Paul Charles Clarke playing Lieutenant Pinkerton.  A chance to hear some new voices playing the lead roles in this classic opera. May I be the first to say wow, really impressed with the two performers, Paul taking total command of the role, and Linda has such a fabulous voice, it’s just breathtaking to listen to. I’ve never heard Linda sing before (having missed her in previous roles), but can’t wait to hear her again in future roles with the WNO. 

I love act two when we get to hear Cio-Cio-San (Linda) sing with her maid Suzuki (played by the amazing Rebecca Afanwy-Jones). Together the harmonies are perfect (as I’ve been saying all through each of the shows I’ve seen).

As usual I have to commend the whole cast and orchestra for just being superb. Its brilliant to come here week after week and get blown away by every performance, of every show, I see. And of course tonight’s was no exception.  Magnificent from everyone, feel the need to see more again and again. 

Madam Butterfly (2nd performance).

Day 3 of my weekend opera extravaganza, its Sunday 12th February 2017 and I’m back at the Millenium Centre here in Cardiff Bay for my second instalment of Madam Butterfly, performed by the WNO company. 

A weekend of sheer bliss listening to some fabulous voices resonating out into this amazing auditorium. Together with the brilliant WNO Orchestra, playing to perfection on every visit, just magnificent, really bringing so much joy to the end of each working week.

So to today’s performance and a second chance in a few days to listen to the beautiful voices of Karah Son (Madam Butterfly) and Rebecca Afonwy-jones (Suzuki). Hearing them together in act two, as they wait for Pinkerton’s ship, each complementing the other with such stunning vocals, is just phenomenal. With ‘One Fine Day’ a stand out aria for Karah, and of course the humming chorus for the brilliant orchestra.  Another brilliant array of singing is the end of act one, with a beautiful piece of music as Pinkerton (Jonathan Burton) and Butterfly sing their hearts out at their wedding evening, as they are left alone after the guests leave. 

In all another fabulous opera, so good, beautifully done from all, with a real privilege to see such great opera so close to home, who are just magnificent on every occasion I get to watch. Need to see more, and knowing me, I definitely will. 

La Boheme (3rd performance).

Saturday 11th February 2017, and back yet again to the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay, for my 3rd performance of La Boheme, a 4 act opera from Puccini with the libretto co written by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. 

The main plot for this wonderful opera consists of two love affairs. The on/off partnership between Musetta (Lauren Fagan) and Marcelo (Gary Griffiths), along with the tempestuous relationship of Rodolfo (Dominick Chenes) with Mimi (Marina Costa-Jackson). As I’ve said before a beautiful opera, with some comic moments intermingled with jealousy and tragedy, as Mimi confronts the ultimate end as the opera progresses to a tearful climax.

As usual the WNO company are just magnificent in everything they do. I have to commend the singing, the music played by the wonderful orchestra (just as I have done after every opera I’ve seen for the past few years) and the fact that I can just relax throughout the whole performance and drift away into the world of live theatrical wonderment. 

A word about tonight’s performance and yet again absolutely outstanding. So good, I even cried in the same places as I did on the previous occasions. Fabulous just fabulous. 

Madam Butterfly.

Friday 10th February 2017, a day off from work today to watch the opening  night performance  of Madam Butterfly from the wonderful WNO, at the Wales Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay. Another opera I’m really looking forward to, having seen this with the Ellen Kent company a few years ago, it will be good to see how the WNO handle this classic opera.

The cast for tonight’s performance  includes David Kempster as Sharpless. Karah Son playing Cio-Cio-San. Jonathan Burton as Pinkerton and Rebecca Afonwy-Jones as Suzuki. The magnificent WNO orchestra is conducted by Lawrence Foster. 

Another beautiful opera written by Puccini (as was La Boheme), and performed to perfection by this brilliant company. Karah Son is absolutely brilliant, such an amazing, beautiful voice, and a huge applause from a very appreciative audience as the curtain came down. Together with Jonathan Burton they make a great vocal pairing, so fabulous to listen to. The second act also gave us the fabulous voice of Rebecca as Suzuki and another chance to hear David Kempster with his Suberb vocal tones as well. As usual the singing from the chorus and the cast was also fabulous just a delight to sit in comfort and wallow in its brilliance.

The set looks stunning, so well thought out, fabulously designed and I must say built to perfection, with everything sliding into place without a fuss. Well worth another visit to this wonderful theatre for another showing.