country and to contributing to the cultural life of Wellington’, and her productions so far have conspicuously fulfilled those aims.
James Ioelu (Count Rodolfo) and Elizabeth Mandeno (Amina) in ‘La sonnambula’ at Opera in a Days Bay Garden
This year’s La sonnambula (seen on February 12) was the company’s 13th production since 2010 and its second Bellini, after I Capuleti e i Montecchi in 2016. At the first of three sold-out performances the audience displayed evident delight at once again being able to experience live, professional (if small-scale) opera. The performance took place on the broad but not extensive lawn below the house, the audience seated in descending ranks with the orchestra behind them on the left. There is no scope for sets but there were chairs, a table and a bed at critical points. The surrounding hills are acoustically helpful so there was no need for amplification for the singers or the 13-piece orchestra, conducted by Mark Carter.
Natasha Wilson was Lisa, vocally vivid as a self-centred, embittered woman, full of loathing for the village people celebrating the impending marriage of Amina and Elvino. The chorus numbered only eight, each singing with clear individuality. MorganAndrew King was a vigorous Alessio, his love for Lisa unreciprocated, to which he seemed somewhat absurdly oblivious. Fraser herself took the role of Teresa, the millowner, her voice warm, flexible and focused.
Amina, the sleepwalker of the title, was sung by a recent winner of the New Zealand Aria contest, Elizabeth Mandeno, exhibiting considerable presence and charm. Elvino was sung by Andrew Grenon; his was a reliable and well-projected voice, though certain of the role’s subtleties were not entirely convincing. James Ioelu as Count Rodolfo was one of the most experienced singers in the cast, vocally and theatrically confident.
Overall the performance was a striking success, sung in Italian so clearly delivered that one could have grasped the sense with no knowledge of the language—further evidence of scrupulous rehearsal by cast and orchestra, resulting in a performance that was polished and hugely entertaining. lindis taylor
Norway Bergen This collaboration between the bergen philharmonic orchestra and the bergen national opera on a fully staged production of Mozart’s final opera was performed to a socially distanced audience at the grieghallen and livestreamed on March 15. It was the company’s final opera under the aegis of the general and artistic director Mary Miller who, together with the conductor Edward Gardner, enthuses about Tito during the first
Opera, May 2021