United Kingdom Berlioz, Les nuits d’éte (Summer season 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 Sequence 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 outdoors Belfast.
The only 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 totally different singers. The primary and final songs are vibrant and upbeat and take care of the start of affection and with lovers being reunited. They body 4 darker, extra introspective songs which take a look at troublesome 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 had been sprinkled throughout the ground. Sinead O’Kelly was sporting a superb burnt-orange robe and he or she 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 vibrant, 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 girl that’s now dying. O’Kelly’s tone was wealthy and various whereas Evans accompanied superbly with a spread of shifting textures. I puzzled if there was scope to carry 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 sentiments of grief for misplaced love within the early a part of the tune and the anguished dramatic outbursts had been dealt with nicely.
In ‘Absence’ O’Kelly’s phrasing was immaculate and the tone was properly various though this efficiency didn’t transfer me as a lot as others I’ve heard, significantly 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 house 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 attraction.
O’Kelly carried out the primary of the songs once more as an encore which was nicely acquired though I did really feel the viewers was somewhat short-changed on this live performance given there was just one work on the programme. I seen that an extra tune by Chausson was initially programmed and it will be good to incorporate this when the live performance is repeated in different places.
It was an impressed thought to carry this collection of live shows throughout totally 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 crew for pulling the collection collectively in such an imaginative manner.