Ukrainian National Opera at Venue Cymru, Llandudno
Llandudno’s Venue Cymru last night played host to the Ukrainian National Opera of Kharkiv and their internationally acclaimed performance of Puccini’s La Bohéme, directed by Ellen Kent.
One of the most popular and romantic operas, La Bohéme tells the tragic tale of Mimi, a doomed and lonely Parisian woman and her love for the poor, penniless writer Rodolfo.
Set in 1830s Paris, the performance immediately enveloped the audience as soon as the curtain rose, and transported them to the poor, impoverished world of Rodolfo and his friends. The set was very believable, complete with hand painted scenery and impressive smoke effects, as well as sumptuously designed costumes.
The performance itself was a complete treat, and included many famous arias such as Your Tiny Hand Is Frozen and They Call Me Mimi. There was also a memorable appearance from Musetta’s small dog during Musetta’s Waltz, which had some of the audience in stitches.
The on-stage relationship between the lovers Rodolfo and Mimi was entirely believable; they performed extremely well. It was very easy to believe that they were two people completely infatuated with each other, despite desperately trying not to be, and the final act depicting the death of Mimi brought at least a tear to all in the audience. The performance also caused some mixed emotions between laughter and sadness at points, due to the antithesis of the sad and tragic relationship between Mimi and Rodolfo and the comical relationship between Marcello and Musetta, which were both portrayed on stage simultaneously at some points.
It was difficult to feel sadness for one relationship without laughing at the other – until the end act, when all elements of humour were completely forgotten, and sadness took over the audience at the tragic death of Mimi.
After a slightly shaky start in act one, in which the orchestra had a tendency to drown out the singers, the performers settled in to an extremely successful performance, enjoyed immensely by all. It was an emotional rollercoaster ride that drained much out of all watching, but left all very satisfied. An excellent performance.
The Ukrainian National Opera of Kharkiv continues their tour of La Bohéme around the UK.
Read the original article here: http://www.dailypost.co.uk/leisure/theatre-reviews/2012/04/20/la-boh-me-55578-30802626/
Theatr Colwyn played host this week to students from Colwyn Bay’s Ysgol Bryn Elian and other schools, performing Arthur Laurents’s and Stephen Sondheim’s famous musical West Side Story for three nights as part of their post-16 courses.
After a slightly shaky start (caused no doubt by understandable nerves) the cast fell into their characters well and seemed genuinely to enjoy the performance that they were putting on. By the end of the show, the cast portrayed a confidence on stage that belied their experience.
Laurents’s original story and Sondheim’s famous lyrics and melodies were followed to the letter and to the note, and no sections of the story were omitted, which was pleasant to see. Although this ended up making the performance rather long, it was still enjoyable.
The production was also supported by a full orchestra – impressively also consisting entirely of students. This complimented the close acoustics of the small theatre magnificently for the most part, and made for a sound that enveloped the audience, and effectively pulled them into the story. However, the slight downside was the fact that the room was so small meant that, on occasion, the orchestra was a little too loud and had a slight tendency to drown out the singers on the stage. This, however, was rare, and it wasn’t noticeable enough to be detrimental to the performance.
Special mentions must go to lead characters Callum Evans (Tony) and Elin Hughes (Maria), whose excellent voices lit up the audience from the moment they began singing. It was truly exciting to hear such young talent, their voices full of emotion and an expression of enjoyment on their faces. The scene in which Tony says his final goodbyes and sings a final duet with Maria was very moving, and had some of the audience in tears. There were also fine performances from Nathan Leigh Goodwin as Bernardo, Dan Davies as Riff and also an excellent and on occasion humorous performance from young actor Dorian Schiefer.
Overall, it was an amusing, emotional and ultimately excellent performance that was a credit to the cast, musicians and crew and, despite the occasional problem, an absolute pleasure to watch.
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