Manchester Opera House
Brought to Manchester by Ellen Kent, the doyen of independent opera productions, this frothy and sparkling operetta was a challenge to the Moldovian based, Chisinau Opera Company in more ways than one. Firstly they had to sing in English which for many cast members meant learning some of the language. Secondly Ellen Kent has devised a new libretto which includes including elements of earlier versions including Russian productions. In addition the cast had to practice comic timing, which is difficult at most times, but not knowing the language makes this even harder and finally they have to learn and deliver the music with a flourish.
Ellen is also the Director, Producer, Librettist, Publicist and a participating Actress. No pressure there then! She makes a fine job of it all, although being miked up in her speaking role would have been useful because, unlike the strong voices of the cast, her voice projection was a little too conversational for the large theatre and I missed most of her words. Ellen played the mystery guest the Maharani of Jaipur with Indian Classical Dancer Devika Rao, which introduced even more exoticism to the party scene.
All the singers have excellent, crystal clear voices, because as is usual with Ellen's productions she picks the very best voices. Chocolatey smooth tenors, warm rounded baritones, fizzy champagne sopranos and a spicey mezzo. There is not a weak link in the chain of this casting line-up.
Womanising Gabriel Von Eisenstein is sung by Ruslan Zinevych, Rosalinde his wife is sung by Alyona Kistenyova. The maid Adele, on sparkling form, is Marina Tonina. The dual role of Alfred and Doctor Faulke is Ruslan Pacatovici. Dr Blind is Yuri Huyaniuk. The two voices I personally loved were Liza Kadelnik, as the more money than sense, Count Orlofsky and Iurie Gisca as Frank the Prison Governor. Vladimir Dragos as Frosch the Jailer is excellent in his comic role and his physicality had just the right touch.
Waltz King Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus always reminds me of a Gilbert and Sullivan opera, and the added touches of topicality and local references, together with snatches of other opera arias heightened this feeling. The costumes are also just the right period, and the chorus worked hard, successfully conveying the frivolous atmosphere
The evening was a triumph with a great set and a small but effective orchestra, sympathetically conducted by Vasyl Vaslenko, which helped the voices to soar into every nook and cranny of the vast theatre
A great night out all round and we went home through the clear but cold Manchester night humming the tunes, so what more can you ask. Aylesbury, Hull, Sheffield and a quick nip over the waters to Cork who have yet to experience this great production before the tour finishes on the 4th of May in Basingstoke. Residents of those towns I recommend you get your tickets quickly for a laughter filled evening of song and fun.
Tonight in Manchester Ellen brings us Carmen, always a show stopper