The Adelaide Youth Orchestra commenced with the Overture and first Act from Le Nozze di Figaro by Mozart and immediately showed that, although young, they could handle this with flare. After impressing us with the Overture, Timothy Sexton, narrating as the Count, gave us a run down on what was happening in the Count’s household, in Cinque, dieci, venti. Lisa Cannizzaro sang Susanna beautifully with Sexton singing the part of the Count. Jeremy Tatchell, straight from his success as The Servant in State Opera SA’s Don Giovanni, was a wonderful Figaro with Hew Wagner singing Basilio, Megan Bow as Marcellina, Daniel Goodburn as Bartolo and Fiona McArdle doing a superb job as Cherubino. The first Act ended with the very familiar Non pui andrai demonstrating the skill of not only Tatchell, but the conductor Nicholas Braithwaite and his control over this orchestra of excellent young musicians.
The comic opera Le Nozze di Figaro is the result of the first collaboration between Italian writer Lorenzo Da Ponte and Mozart and depicts a day of madness in the palace of Count Almaviva. Although they only played Act One, these young players kept it light and crisp and made it easy to forget their lack of experience. The music reflected the happy undertones in an opera that has a happy ending, unlike many others.
The sense of fun was maintained with Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss, which has the silliest of plots, full of mistaken identity and foolish lovers. We were given a look at the second Act where Rosalinda (Desiree Frahn), disguised as a Hungarian Countess, encounters her husband Gabriel von Einstien (Branko Lovrinov), who is supposed to be in jail, at a masked ball hosted by Prince Orlofsky (Fiona McArdle). Eisenstein tries to seduce one of the beautiful guests, not realising that it is in fact his wife. His wife’s maid Adele (Sarah-Jane Pattichis) is also there as is Eisenstein’s friend Falke (Jeremy Tatchell) and Frank (Beau Sandford), the warden who supposedly imprisoned Eisenstein – confused? So are they! Other guest singers who made up the party were Naomi Hede, Lisa Cannizzaro and Hew Wagner. Adelaide Youth Orchestra was fortunate to get so many fine guests.
The final part of the program was the final trio and duet from Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss. This is again a love story with some comic undertones but the final scenes are a little bittersweet. Octavian (Fiona McArdle) delivers a rose to Sophie (Sarah-Jan Pattichis) and they fall in love, the duet that followed this was lovely. However he is in fact the lover of the older Marschallin (Desiree Frahn) and Sophie is betrothed to the Duke who now has withdrawn. The Marschallin realises that Octavian is torn between her and his new love and releases him in Hab mir’s gelobt, ihn lieb zu haben. The final short duet is a delightful end to the opera and the evening.
This was a well-chosen program which was delivered by some very excellent musicians and singers, notably Fiona McArdle who sang the ‘trouser role‘ in each opera. Mention should also be made of the fine direction by David Lampard and the leadership of Nicholas Braithwaite who brought his world-renowned skill to this production; also the narration, in character, by Timothy Sexton that allowed those of us not totally familiar with all the operas to follow with ease.
Reviewed by Fran Edwards