Monday, 24 April 2017

Lost in Translation

Cavalli - La Calisto
Cavalli La Calisto; Ensemble OrQuesta Opera Academy, Marcio da Silva; John McIntosh Arts Centre
Reviewed by Anthony Evans on Apr 22 2017
Star rating: 3.0

Young artists in Cavalli's tragi-comedy

Ensemble OrQuesta Opera Academy was founded to give singers the opportunity of performing roles in staged productions. Two casts are coached over eight days in style, technique, acting and movement culminating in two performances with a professional ensemble. I caught the first of these in Cavalli's La Calisto at the John McIntosh Arts Centre, presented in association with Music at Woodhouse, conducted and staged by Marcio da Silva.

The challenge of staging an opera in little more than a week must be an intense experience. It is always going to be seat of the pants stuff. Noises off and the stygian stage lighting of the first half made for a shaky start. Still, it’s certainly an exciting way to gain experience. Sadly the audience was thin on the ground swallowed up by the auditorium – there must be an organisation in London that could provide an audience that these young performers deserve?

La Calisto is a tragi-comedy based on the myth of Callisto from Ovid's Metamorphoses fused with the adventures of Diana and Endymion. It meditates on the nature of love and carnal lust and is full of capriciousness, pathos and raunchy comedy.

I can understand the decision of an opera academy to perform in the original language, but for the uninitiated the convoluted plot and the immediacy of the comedy can be lost in the banality of super-titles. La Calisto is recitative heavy and in a plot unfamiliar to modern audiences I personally would have wished to see it performed in translation.

To my disappointment the vocal performances were almost uniformly diffident and at times colourless which contributed to a lack of dramatic momentum. It gave the impression that the cast hadn’t understood the words they were singing. I longed for them to sell it to me. Bucking the trend was Victoria Mulley as Linfea who clearly understood her character and as a result so did we, giving the audience some genuine laughs.

All that said, there was some fine music making with crisp playing from the small ensemble and, as you’d expect at this level, some accomplished singing; the ensembles sparkled.
Reviewed by Anthony Evans

Francesco Cavalli - La Calisto
Saturday Apr. 22nd, 7pm
John McIntosh Arts Centre - SW6 1AW London
Music/stage director - Marcio da Silva

Assistant music director - Stephanie Gurga
Set/Costumes - Monika Saunders
Harpsichord - Tyrone Whiting
Theorbo - Johan Lofving
Violin - Eleanor Harrison, Salomé Rateau
Cello - Carina Drury

Tamara Navoth – Calisto
Jolyon Loy – Giove
Chris Murphy – Endimione
Hilma Wikstrom – Giuno / Il Destino
Michal Aloni – Diana
Marjolaine Horreaux – Satirino / L'Eternita
Shaun Aquillina – Mercurio
Victoria Mulley – Linfea
Kieran White – Pane / La Natura
Timothy Patrick - Silvano

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