Un ballo in maschera – Verdi – Opera Holland Park – Young Artist Performance
The original Greek Director Rodula Gaitanou, with design by Takis, produced an attractive moveable wooden panelled set that was used throughout this opera - apart from the great entrance of the Fortune Teller. In this Young Artist performance the direction was taken on by Rachel Hewer, who has worked on a number of shows at the Royal College of Music and Glyndebourne. She had Sion Corder as her Lighting Director, Steve Elias as the Movement Director and Brett Yount as the Fight Director, all from the main production. The work was updated to the 1940s, but still retained its ambiguous eccentricities and disguised assassin’s violence, which were a pre-cursor to the death of Gustavo. The area of concern was always the replacement of the cemetery scene with a hospital scene, which didn’t necessarily reflect the storyline, particularly the need for Amelia to suffer injections to cure her love. Bizarre!
The Conductor was an outstanding Sonia Ben-Santamaria, who used her long arms in confident style directing the orchestra and always in charge, particularly in the opening overture. Hers was a well-controlled lithe performance.
The Amelia was the clear toned soprano Nadine Benjamin with the mobster looking Gustavo of the ringing toned Adriano Graziani. The Anckarstrom was the young bass Jack Holton, who has a nice tone and focus and the Oscar was a bouncy bright-voiced Claire Lees. There was also quality singing from the Madame of Georgia Mae Bishop, the Ribbing of Blaise Malaba, the Horn of Tom Mole, the Servant of Mike Bradley and the Cristiano of Samuel Oram.
It is so important to be able to give the Young Artists a place to shine and in this performance they certainly did.