"Devon Opera, as if by magic, conjures up every year highly professional opera right on your door step. No mean feat.
This year they have pushed the boat out to present a full scale opera, Verdi's highly famous Rigoletto.
In the past they have chosen to give us mainly operatic extracts. So a brave choice to tackle a full length production.
I would say it offers a much more satisfying experience.
Verdi's opera has plenty of high drama together with a whole feast of familiar arias.
The plot is based around the degenerate court of the Duke of Mantua. Add in the toxic mix of love, jealousy, vengeance, murder and assassination.
The central characters, who drive the plot, give it all meaning, are Rigoletto, the court servant and his nestled away daughter Gilda. You need two strong, able performers to pull this off. Philip Smith and Natasha Day carried it all with ease and confidence. They matched terrific singing ability, hitting the whole range of highs and lows of the musical score, while capturing the roller coasting demands of their emotional journey.
A highlight of the performance is the wonderful, well recognised, second half quartet. This is Verdi at his complex, mesmerising best. The Duke, Leonel Pinheiro , who really grabbed the dark side of his role, is indoors with his latest female attraction, the sexy barmaid Alison Kettlewell. Watching from the outside is Rigoletto and his despairing daughter. Voices merge, but each one is engrossed in their own world. It was a sheer delight to both watch and listen.
Devon Opera performs in small spaces, with modest scenery and minus a chorus. It could be said the staging allows the singers to do what they do best. This group did just that. Supported by the very high quality piano accompaniment of music director, Natalie Burch. All brought altogether under the firm and assured direction of Ruth Bettesworth.
The one down side is the lack of chorus, or even a few extras. It means we miss out on getting a true feel for the depraved, indulgent behaviour which lies at the heart of the court of Mantra.
However, Devon Opera are to be celebrated for bringing a sure fire team of professional performers to very attractive performing spaces. The intimacy of the setting is in many ways a bit special, and very different from the usual opera set-up. The audience have ring-side seats to immerse themselves in the swirling plot."
Photographs © Graham Eteson
"Devon Opera, as if by magic, conjures up every year highly professional opera right on your
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