Monday, 27 March 2017

Sheer enthusiasm keeps the fizz in this glass: Opera Integra in Die Fledermaus

Opera Integra - Die Fledermaus
Johann Strauss Die Fledermaus; Opera Integra, dir: Fiona Williams, cond: Sonia Ben-Santamaria; St John's Notting Hill
Reviewed by Anthony Evans on Mar 24 2017
Star rating: 3.0

The singers' enthusiasm was infectious in a disappointing staging

Yesterday evening (Friday 24 March 2017) a near sell out crowd braved the discomforts of pew induced paraesthesia for a performance of the perennial favourite Die Fledermaus at St. John’s Notting Hill. This production from Opera Integra was directed by Fiona Williams and conducted by Sonia Ben-Santamaria. Opera Integra is a self funding group that encourages amateur and aspiring professional singers. Bringing talent together to celebrate opera is a laudable aim.

Die Fledermaus’ lampoon of marital fidelity can be an aggressive, satirical parody. Fiona Williams decided that froth would suffice and to be fair the singers’ enthusiasm was infectious. Working in an unusual space like a church can present it’s own problems and requires a bit of thought. Mime to compensate for the lack of a physical set can be tricky and in this case was wholly unnecessary.

Musically the show got off to a fizzing start though I was left bemused by a series of incomprehensible scenes during the overture. Sonia Ben-Santamaria encouraged a great sound from the ten piece orchestra. Despite a few musical stumbles in the transitions the show stayed on the road and Strauss’ intoxicating music sparkled.

There was some fine singing too. Michelle Smith as Adele made light work of the coloratura and was immensely popular with the audience. Pascal Kennedy’s Dr. Falke was a charming card with a beaming smile - a little under-powered but a lovely natural voice. Relishing the role of Rosalinda, Katie Hinchliffe navigated the Csardas with aplomb but might benefit from listening to her colleagues. Last night’s performance was all about the craic and you can’t knock that.

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