United Kingdom Berlioz, Les nuits d’éte (Summer time Nights): Sinead O’Kelly (mezzo-soprano), Bryan Evans (piano), Cameron Menzies (creatives). Courtyard Theatre, Newtownabbey, 11.3.2023. (RB)
This was the ultimate live performance in Northern Eire Opera’s Salon Collection which concerned them performing a spread of repertoire in varied venues throughout Northern Eire. The venue on this event was the small and intimate Courtyard Theatre in Newtownabbey which is simply exterior Belfast.
The only real work on the programme was Berlioz’s Les nuits d’éte which the composer wrote in 1841. It’s a setting of six poems by the French poet and author Théophile Gautier. Every of the six songs is devoted to completely different singers. The primary and final songs are shiny and upbeat and cope with the delivery of affection and with lovers being reunited. They body 4 darker, extra introspective songs which have a look at tough emotions stemming from relationships and the lack of family members.
Cameron Menzies used carpets and lamps to create a heat home setting for the songs. Roses featured prominently on the set and rose petals have been sprinkled throughout the ground. Sinead O’Kelly was carrying a high-quality burnt-orange robe and she or he made good use of the props whereas performing the songs.
There was a lot to admire on this efficiency by Sinead O’Kelly and Bryan Evans. They adopted brisk tempi and did a wonderful job characterising every of the songs. O’Kelly introduced a shiny, radiant tone to ‘Villanelle’, the opening tune of the set, towards Evans’s chattering chords on the piano. ‘Le spectre de la rose’ is the masterpiece of the set; the poet imagines a rose corsage worn by a younger lady that’s now dying. O’Kelly’s tone was wealthy and diverse whereas Evans accompanied superbly with a spread of shifting textures. I questioned if there was scope to deliver out extra of the sensual passion and shimmering eroticism of this tune. ‘Sur les lagunes’ is a funereal barcarolle which sees the poet heading out to sea. O’Kelly captured the emotions of grief for misplaced love within the early a part of the tune and the anguished dramatic outbursts have been dealt with nicely.
In ‘Absence’ O’Kelly’s phrasing was immaculate and the tone was properly diverse though this efficiency didn’t transfer me as a lot as others I’ve heard, notably in these sections the place when the poet pleads for the return of his beloved. Evans captured completely the ghostly backdrop of ‘Au cimetière’ whereas O’Kelly’s vocal line introduced dwelling the melancholy of the graveyard scene. O’Kelly and Evans ended the cycle on a extra upbeat observe with ‘L’Île inconnue’. O’Kelly introduced the scene winningly to life and sang with vivacity and allure.
O’Kelly carried out the primary of the songs once more as an encore which was nicely obtained though I did really feel the viewers was a little bit short-changed on this live performance given there was just one work on the programme. I observed that an extra tune by Chausson was initially programmed and it could be good to incorporate this when the live performance is repeated in different areas.
It was an impressed thought to carry this sequence of live shows throughout completely different venues in Northern Eire and I’ve been very impressed with the general high quality of the productions and the usual of the music making. Bravo to Cameron Menzies and his workforce for pulling the sequence collectively in such an imaginative manner.