On the 30th November, Cardiff University Operatic Society performed their ‘Opera Through The Ages’ Gala Concert, which took the audience through the entire history of opera in solos, ensembles and choruses. The diverse programme showed what an exciting line-up was laid out ahead.
The evening began with a very confident start, with the blend of Lucy Hannam, Katharine Blackwell, Donald Montgomery, Conall Keaveney and Benjamin Gutsell’s voices coming together well in their rendition of the Prologue from Blow’s Venus and Adonis. It was clear as the evening progressed that the members of the Operatic Society had a great understanding of their pieces, which came across in their emotive, interpretive performances, whether it was the changing mood of Handel’s ‘Piangero la sorte mia’, or Wagner’s ‘Treulich geführt ziehet dahin’, a piece that is perhaps more famous for being a wedding favourite, than anything else.
Conductor David Young gave introductions to each piece, which made the Gala Concert much more accessible to those who perhaps did not have an encyclopedic knowledge of the opera, without being condescending to hardcore opera fans.
But the evening wasn’t all about musical interpretation and historical context; there was a good deal of dramatisation, which is essential in operas but often forgotten in concerts. Alice Gunn’s interpretation of Bizet’s ‘Près des remparts de Séville’ was done very much in character, whilst Barber’s ‘A Hand of Bridge’ was performed by an ensemble who were very much in touch with their characters as unhappily wed couples, making good use of the evening’s only props – a deck of cards.
It’s no secret that Cardifff University plays host to a great body of vocal talent, and this Gala Concert gave solid proof of that. The abilities shown here give us a taster of what can be expected in their performance of Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’ in March 2014.