Rebecca Smith as Carmen in York Opera's Tales Of Love. Photographs: Chris Mackins
Rebecca Smith as Carmen in York Opera’s Tales Of Love. Photographs: Chris Mackins

Review: Tales Of Love by York Opera
Venue: Guildhall, York, June 4

York Opera’s Tales Of Love at the Guildhall was an Assiette of Delight from beginning to end. As a member of the audience said to me, “York Opera don’t do anything by halves”.

In the splendid setting of the Guildhall this is an evening to savour, from the entrance of Carmen to the breaking of Hoffmann’s heart.

Marvellous costumes and simple set pieces all add to the excellent singing of both soloists and chorus.

Rebecca Smith is a seductive Carmen, matching the panache of Ian Thomson–Smith’s Escamillo.

We then move to the serial womaniser Don Giovanni, played by Clive Goodhead, in excellent voice, with his servant Leporello – James Wood providing a lyrical introduction to Giovanni’s plot to deceive Eivira (Julia Ledger) in order to serenade her maid.

Now to Turandot and the end of the opera with the rendition of Nessun Dorma by an assured Hamish Brown.

Hilary Dyson brings just the right amount of pathos to her dying aria and the rest of the company bring the first half to a stunning conclusion.

James Wood as Leporello in the extract from Don Giovanni
James Wood as Leporello in the extract from Don Giovanni

Performing in the round (well a rectangle actually) adds to the intensity and passion of the evening with the soloists only inches away from the audience.

This really works to great effect in the second half, which is devoted to The Tales of Hoffman.

Here we have an exceptional performance by Heather Watts as Olympia, a mechanical doll. Her singing was superb and matched by her amazing doll like movement and persona.

Clive Marshall clearly enjoyed every minute playing the sinister Dr Coppelius to great effect.

With support from the other principals and the excellent chorus this was a great end to a most enjoyable evening.

Credit must also be given to the directors of each excerpt and the sensitive musical direction of Derek Chivers with able accompaniment by Tim Tozer.

If you love opera make sure you get a ticket for one of the remaining performances.



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