Opera Review





Midsummer Opera





Three Concert Performances in Italian


Conductor:  David Roblou

Chorus Master. John Upperton


25th at 7.30pm and 26th October at 3.00

St John’s Church

Waterloo Road


Saturday 8th November at 7.00 pm
The Broadway Theatre, Catford Broadway








A review by Barry Grantham for EXTRA! EXTRA!


In recent reviews I have been much concerned with the merits or otherwise of the presently popular fashion of changing the period and location of a piece from that which its author intended. With a concert version of an opera there is no such problem; there is just you, the orchestra and the singers, and if you know something of the story line, or have read the programme synopsis carefully, you can be your own director, designer and choreographer, building in your mind’s eye the scene evoked by Master Giuseppe Verdi. And he makes it easy for you; if ever a composer can be credited with realizing the visual scene in sound, this is the fellow. As the orchestral interludes play, one has only to close one’s eyes to see those slave girls dancing or those dark Ethiopians whirling. In the strident marches we see, the pageantry and the cheering crowds. And in the final scene we can positively feel the oppressive loneliness of the entombment.
Much of this sense of theatre we can attribute to the bold direction of conductor David Roblou. No half measures here, no tasteful reticence, no holding back his singers, who pour forth with all the glories of Bel Canto. But don’t think there is no light and shade - of shade there is plenty. Not least the incredible diminishing, diminishing, diminishing end, to the whole opera; the heart rending lament of Amneris (Zoë South) and a final plucked note of the strings.

In terms of enjoyment and of appreciation and understanding Verdi’s massive score, this concert version loses nothing; there is merely the transfer of the visual to the auditory. And there are some visual compensations; the splendid ambience of St John’s Church, the excitement of watching the large orchestra; string players with bows raised poised to make their musical entrances, brass instruments brought to the lips, chorus standing up ready to sing   And singers making their entrances and exits, with some good production details here – placing them at various vantage points, about the church and beginning or completing their vocals, as they approach or leave their lecterns. And then the splendid Mr Roblou changes his red waistcoat for a black one for the second half.

The three main protagonists are of the first class  – John Upperton (so much the romantic tenor)  as Redamès, the victorious general who sacrifices himself for love, Zoë South as Amneris,(a mezzo of warmth and depth)  the Pharaoh’s daughter whose jealousy brings about his death and that of her rival Aïda (Soprano) sung by Deborah Stoddart in a voice of great power but also sweetness, The more supporting roles are equally well sung with Trevor Alexander as Amonasro, an Ethiopian King and father of Aïda, Rupert Pentargon as The King, Siân Woodling as The High Priestess, Stephen Holloway as Ramfis The high Priestand Christopher Hollis as The Messenger.

It is the nature of concert performances that they do not have a ‘run’, and the second performance at St Johns will have taken place before this notice appears, but there is a further showing at the Broadway Theatre, Catford on 8th November. If you don’t manage to get there, do remember the name of the Midsummer Opera – I’m sure that whatever they do will be worthy of notice.


25th at 7.30pm  and 26th October at 3.00
St John’s Church, Waterloo Road

Saturday 8th November at 7.0pm
The Broadway Theatre, Catford Broadway. London SE6 4RU


 £15. concessions


Enquiries 0207 652 0070








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