The Sumptuous sounds of A Night at the Opera

A Night at the Opera, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Ipswich Regent, Wednesday October 24

Ipswich has taken the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to its heart and its regular visits – each one with a different theme – are eagerly anticipated.

The stage was almost as packed as the auditorium, around 60 musicians bringing us a night to remember. The accomplished singers, soprano Deborah Norman and tenor John Hudson, performed some of the most popular arias in the repertoire.

Venetian conductor Renato Balsadonna was expressive on his rostrum, sometimes adding a small jump or stamp of the foot to his baton work. The orchestras sumptuous sound was well showcased in the first half with the overture from Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von N�rnberg.

Deborah Norman showed off her beautiful tone and effortless musicality in the Madama Butterfly aria One Fine Day. Even in concert, she acted the role and conveyed the emotion of the piece. Likewise in her final aria, Tosca’s Vissi d’Arte, Norman sang with enormous feeling.

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The finale of the evening’s programme was also Puccini’s and it was, of course, Nessun Dorma, always a test of a tenor’s mettle and John Hudson showed that even after tackling a number of testing operatic numbers, he had those big top notes. The performance gained a deserved storm of cheers and applause which might have been the final curtain had it not been for a bouyant encore, Verdi’s Brindisi from La Traviata.

Another highlight of this Ipswich night of opera was the overture from Mozart’s Barber of Seville.

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A notable and hugely appreciated aspect of the RPO and singers was that the audience was treated to pure, unalloyed musicianship with no mics. Fabulous.

Perhaps we missed hearing a few words from our maestro who, while eloquent with the baton, didn’t speak to his very appreciative audience. Ipswich is already looking forward to the RPO’s next visit in April 2013 when it brings a Russian Spectacular to the Regent Theatre.

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