Friday 16th September 2016 and a day off from work. In Cardiff bay early today, looking to take some photos around the area, before watching the Welsh National Opera’s production of ‘Merchant of Venice’ at the Millenium Centre. Another opera I have never seen before, so yet again the chance arises to see something new, to add to my growing list of amazing performances at the Centre.
Another Shakespeare play made into an opera with music written by Andre Tchaikowsky and libretto by John O’Brien. I think everyone knows the story of the merchant of Venice, where Bassanio wants money to Persue the wealthy Portia, and enlists the help of Antonio to borrow money off Shylock, who insists that if the money cannot be repaid in time Antonio must forfeit a pound of flesh. When Antonio cannot pay, Portia disguised as a male lawyer defeats Shylock in court, letting Antonio off the hook for his forfeit.
The main cast consists of Antonio (the merchant) played by Martin Wolfel. Bassanio (Antonio’s friend) Mark Le Brocq. Shylock by Lester Lynch and Portia played by Sarah Castle. The first act is split into two scenes. Scene one is quite dark, and appropriately so,as Antonio and Shylock seal the pact. The music is interspersed with melodic tones and harsher notes as the original play suggests. The end of scene one has Shylocks daughter (Jessica played by Lauren Michelle) escaping Shylocks home to run off with Lorenzo (Bruce Sledge). Scene two is more comical with several suitors at Portia’s home vying for her love, of course Bassanio wins. Fabulous performances from Portia (Sarah Castle) and her companion Nerissa (Verena Gunz) help make this section amazing, leading to the end of act one.
Act two gives us the infamous courtroom scene where Portia and her companion disguise themselves as lawyers and win through. Another fabulous section of voices from all the cast in that scene. Leading us to the final scene as Portia and Nerissa try to trick their respective husbands. Again some fabulous voices coming through for this scene as well. Credit must also be given to the orchestra, who handled this complicated score with apparent ease. Showing just how brilliant they are every time.
On the whole I really enjoyed the opera. With amazing performances from all the cast, Chorus and orchestra in this fantastic theatre. As usual I’m going home a very happy man. Back tomorrow for more opera.