Gisele Blanchard

Gisele BlanchardPresented by Catherine Zengerer and Ewart Shaw
Reviewed Sunday 22nd August 2010

Venue: Pilgrim Church, 12 Flinders Street, Adelaide
Duration: 2hrs incl interval

Soprano, Gisele Blanchard, is currently visiting her home town and, while here, she presented a concert of operatic highlights. She studied at the Elder Conservatorium of music but now lives in Modena. Her husband, baritone, Mario Bellanova, and pianist, Alexander Hanysz, were her special guests. Bellanova flew in from Tokyo, where he is currently singing in a production of La Traviata, especially for the performance. This concert could easily be subtitled ‘all of your favourite arias and duets from all of your favourite operas’, for that is exactly what it was.

There was a balanced programme of comedy, romance and drama with something to please everybody, beginning with Mozart’s operas Cosi Fan Tutte and Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro). Blanchard sang Despina’s aria, Unna donna a quindici anni, from the fist of those operas then Bellanova sang Figaro’s aria, Non plu andral, from the second, the pair then singing the duet between the Count and Susanna, Crudel, also from the second of those operas.

In the first three selections we had, thus, had the opportunity to hear each of their voices alone and then blending together. There was already no doubt that the rest of the concert was going to be sheer delight and indeed it was. We stayed in a light hearted mood with two arias from Donizetti’s Don Pasquale and one from his La Fille di Regiment (The Daughter of the Regiment) before a complete change to Verdi’s La Traviata and Germont’s attempt to persuade his son to leave the courtesan, Violetta, and return to home. Romance from Puccini and fun from Johann Strauss and the first half had, surprisingly, already ended.

The second half flew past just as quickly with more of the great names of opera represented. Well-known works from Gounod, Verdi, Massenet, Puccini, Mozart and Leoncavallo were there, along with Umberto Giordano’s wonderful Andrea Chenier, a seldom seen work that was, fortunately, staged here in 2001, in a fine production by State Opera.

Throughout the concert it was fascinating to watch how the two singers changed their approach to each aria or duet as they slipped easily from one character and mood to another. They did not merely sing the pieces, as one might expect in a concert, but performed the roles in character, adding to the enjoyment. This was a superb afternoon of music with fine accompaniment from Hanysz behind the remarkable voices of these two singers. Individually their voices were wonderful but, together, they could not have been more complementary. Let us hope they return again soon.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor Glam Adelaide.

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