Saturday, 17 September 2016

The full ramide (OAE/Semiramide/Prom 68)

Gioachino Rossini, Semiramide (Mark Elder cond. OAE at the BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall).
Dreamy, dreamy bel canto (4th September). Four hours whizzed passed as if in a heartbeat. That most brilliant of bands, the OAE, provided a bubbling, blazing account of the score. Elder credited singers and players, but he held this together so well. Obscure opera might drag in concert; here it clipped along at great speed. A note on timpani was included in the programme. Adrian Bending had three pairs of drums to ensure the sounds were authentic but at the right pitch. That’s the OAE difference.
Albina Shagimuratova in the title role was outstanding. Power and pitch made this come alive. Daniela Barcellona, as Arsace was more than up to the task of singing with Shagimuratova. Palazzi as Assur displayed seriously impressive bass technique. Barry Banks as Idreno took a little while to warm up, but was splendid when he got there. Susana Gaspar sang the small role of Azema admirably; the lady sitting next to me had sung the role as an amateur and said some lovely recitative had been cut from the first act. James Platt was Nino's Ghost from a camera stand in the arena. Very effective use of the awkward space and acoustics of the RAH. 
A quick snap of the extensive ovation.
Opera Rara’s chorus was on splendid form. All together this made for an extraordinary evening of bel canto. Why isn’t this standard rep? Good news more or less than same forces have recorded a CD for Opera Rara. I can’t wait.
Full cast
Albina Shagimuratova Semiramide
Daniela Barcellona Arsace
Mirco Palazzi Assur
Barry Banks Idreno
Gianluca Buratto Oroe
Susana Gaspar Azema
David Butt Philip Mitrane
James Platt Nino's Ghost
Opera Rara Chorus
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Sir Mark Elder conductor

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