Theatre in Wales

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Great Opera from the Roots

At Opra Cymru

Opra Cymru- Don Pascwale , Aberaeron Memorial Hall , September 10, 2011
At Opra Cymru by Opra Cymru- Don Pascwale Opra Cymru is about as raw, and as cheering, as opera gets. The cast do their costume changes behind a screen a few feet from the audience. To play the doctor Malatesta Iwan Davies gets a simple white lab coat. The set is a small table, a couple of chairs, a vase of flowers.

The company travels with its own five hundred square foot stage. It is only a foot above the ground. When Robin Lyn‘s passionate Ernesto unleashes his aria- “Ah, un foco insolito/ "A fire unfelt before"- he is only six feet away. That closeness brings out textures of tone in his tenor that large venues do not have.

The first applause of the evening comes for Ceirios Haf’s opening aria. She is in a silver Japanese print dressing gown and purple slippers. Polishing her nails she sings So anch'io la virtù magica/ I too know your magical virtues." Maybe the applause is for the quality of her vaulting coloratura. There may be a little touch in it that she comes from Llanarth three miles away.

Her Norina, a lone soprano amid four male voices, moves from coquette to tyrant, raising her fists at Arwel Huw Morgan’s comic Don Pascwale. He is put upon in his pinstriped trousers, his foppish frilly shirt and yellow cravat.

Iwan Davies impressed recently in the summer as Don Escamillo in “Carmen”. His tall, graceful Malatesta ends the second scene in a beautiful duet, with a voice that easily holds its own. Dafydd Wyn Rees’ Notary adds a witty touch with his high speed typing. His guitar adds romance to the moonlit garden scene.

Donizetti’s 1843 score has been trimmed by forty minutes. It is a sensible decision. The tour’s first venues have been schools in Conwy, Gwynedd and Anglesey. A highpoint in the music is the finale of act two. The audience is seated on four sides. Director Patrick Young generously sends his cast to three corners of the stage, to beautiful effect.

Helen Davies is the tireless pianist. For the Aberaeron performance Gareth Brierley is on lights. Opra Cymru tours benefit of eleven supporters and sponsors. The newly named Literature Wales is presumably supporter for Sioned Young’s translation. ACW’s Noson Allan scheme is involved. A Night Out it is indeed. “Don Pascwale” continues to Blaenau Ffestiniog, Rhosygilwen, Rhayader and Bangor.





Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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