Monthly Archives: February 2017

Pride and Prejudice.

Saturday 25th February 2017 and another show at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay. This time a play ‘Pride and Prejudice’ from the pen of author Jane Austen. This is another new experience for me, I have not watched many plays live on stage, so I’m not sure what to expect from today’s performance. 

So onto tonight’s show, and yet again what a fabulous play. All of the cast were just brilliant, with magnificent performances from Tafline Steen as Elizabeth Bennet, Felicity Montagu as mrs Bennet, Benjamin Dilloway as Mr Darcy, Matthew Kelly as Mr Bennet and Steven Meo as the hilariously funny Mr Collins. I was also very impressed with the vocabulary throughout the play. As with a typical period drama every word was clear and precise from all the members of the cast. So good to listen to the way people spoke to each other without mumbling or swearing.

There was a good mix of drama and comedy throughout and the odd tear as well (especially towards the end as Elizabeth and Darcy finally get together). Steven Meo (mr Collins) was magnificent with his overstated bow and comic lines.

The set and lighting for the production were also really good, with all the action centred around a revolving stage which served as the houses and gardens as the scenes progressed. May I also say this was beautifully produced, with so many highlights dotted throughout the whole performance, I couldn’t fault anything, it was just magnificent.

I have to say that I believe that any stage production is far superior to any film or TV show that has been made. The thrill of sitting in a luxurious theatre (like the Millenium Centre) watching the drama unfold in front of you, live and unrecorded, makes one feel alive and without a care in the world. That’s how I get by week by week, watching fabulous entertainment. And tonight’s serving was no exception, just wish I could have seen this a few more times (I always say this), it was just superb. I may have repeated myself a few times tonight in my blog, but when you see something that moves you so much, the odd repetitive theme is necessary to describe just how good this play actually was.

Madam Butterfly (4th performance).

Saturday 18th February 2017, and would you believe it, I’m back at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay, for my 4th performance of the WNO production of Madam Butterfly. For tonight’s opera we have Karah Son and Jonathan Burton returning as Cio-Cio-San and Pinkerton. I have been greatly impressed by all four of these leading ladies and gents, with each of them giving stand out performances at all occasions I’ve visited

My last few blogs have concentrated on how amazingly brilliant the female leads have been, with Karah, Linda and Rebecca outstanding on every performance I’ve seen so far. So I’m moving onto the male leads today.

As the curtain rises, we have Goro played by Simon Crosby Buttle with Lieutenant Pinkerton played by Jonathan Burton (for last nights  performance Paul Charles Clark played this role). Followed on by David Kempster as Sharpless (the American Consul). Again I was very impressed with the singing voices these gentlemen generated throughout the opera. Mixing well with the female cast members to produce some wonderful tones as the opera progresses. With a good mix of musical ranges (Simon and Jonathan as the two tenors and David a baritone), we have a great opportunity to listen to these performers sing their hearts out. And I must say they do just that.

I also have to mention the WNO Chorus, whose members fill in the rest of the cast, and again are so brilliant in everything they achieve on stage, adding some wonderful harmonies to proceedings, especially in the first act, as we meet Cio-Cio-san’s relatives etc at the wedding party. I’ve always said the chorus of the WNO have to be one of the best you’ll ever hear when visiting any opera company, and they’ve never proved me wrong so far.

Another mention has to go to the wonderful Orchestra of the WNO, who are just phenomenal every time they play. I think I must have mentioned this fact a million times. They also have to be one of the best Orchestras around at this moment in time, playing to near perfection at every opportunity. 

An amazing season of top class opera, which I have enjoyed immensely. I’ve heard some fabulous voices throughout, just beautiful. Tonight, as well, is the last opera performance at the Millenium Centre before the whole season goes on tour. I feel very lucky to have been able to enjoy so many performances of Madam Butterfly and La Boheme while they have been camped at the centre. So I’m looking forward to more offerings at the Centre for the next season in May/June 2017.

Madam Butterfly (3rd performance).

Friday 17th February 2017, another day off work for a visit to Cardiff Bay, and the Millenium Centre for my 3rd performance of the WNO production of Madam Butterfly.  A really beautiful opera, that’s packed with amazing voices and a wonderful score, (played to perfection by the brilliant WNO Orchestra).

For tonight’s performance we have the role of Cio-Cio-San (Madam Butterfly) played by Linda Richardson. With Paul Charles Clarke playing Lieutenant Pinkerton.  A chance to hear some new voices playing the lead roles in this classic opera. May I be the first to say wow, really impressed with the two performers, Paul taking total command of the role, and Linda has such a fabulous voice, it’s just breathtaking to listen to. I’ve never heard Linda sing before (having missed her in previous roles), but can’t wait to hear her again in future roles with the WNO. 

I love act two when we get to hear Cio-Cio-San (Linda) sing with her maid Suzuki (played by the amazing Rebecca Afanwy-Jones). Together the harmonies are perfect (as I’ve been saying all through each of the shows I’ve seen).

As usual I have to commend the whole cast and orchestra for just being superb. Its brilliant to come here week after week and get blown away by every performance, of every show, I see. And of course tonight’s was no exception.  Magnificent from everyone, feel the need to see more again and again. 

Madam Butterfly (2nd performance).

Day 3 of my weekend opera extravaganza, its Sunday 12th February 2017 and I’m back at the Millenium Centre here in Cardiff Bay for my second instalment of Madam Butterfly, performed by the WNO company. 

A weekend of sheer bliss listening to some fabulous voices resonating out into this amazing auditorium. Together with the brilliant WNO Orchestra, playing to perfection on every visit, just magnificent, really bringing so much joy to the end of each working week.

So to today’s performance and a second chance in a few days to listen to the beautiful voices of Karah Son (Madam Butterfly) and Rebecca Afonwy-jones (Suzuki). Hearing them together in act two, as they wait for Pinkerton’s ship, each complementing the other with such stunning vocals, is just phenomenal. With ‘One Fine Day’ a stand out aria for Karah, and of course the humming chorus for the brilliant orchestra.  Another brilliant array of singing is the end of act one, with a beautiful piece of music as Pinkerton (Jonathan Burton) and Butterfly sing their hearts out at their wedding evening, as they are left alone after the guests leave. 

In all another fabulous opera, so good, beautifully done from all, with a real privilege to see such great opera so close to home, who are just magnificent on every occasion I get to watch. Need to see more, and knowing me, I definitely will. 

La Boheme (3rd performance).

Saturday 11th February 2017, and back yet again to the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay, for my 3rd performance of La Boheme, a 4 act opera from Puccini with the libretto co written by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. 

The main plot for this wonderful opera consists of two love affairs. The on/off partnership between Musetta (Lauren Fagan) and Marcelo (Gary Griffiths), along with the tempestuous relationship of Rodolfo (Dominick Chenes) with Mimi (Marina Costa-Jackson). As I’ve said before a beautiful opera, with some comic moments intermingled with jealousy and tragedy, as Mimi confronts the ultimate end as the opera progresses to a tearful climax.

As usual the WNO company are just magnificent in everything they do. I have to commend the singing, the music played by the wonderful orchestra (just as I have done after every opera I’ve seen for the past few years) and the fact that I can just relax throughout the whole performance and drift away into the world of live theatrical wonderment. 

A word about tonight’s performance and yet again absolutely outstanding. So good, I even cried in the same places as I did on the previous occasions. Fabulous just fabulous. 

Madam Butterfly.

Friday 10th February 2017, a day off from work today to watch the opening  night performance  of Madam Butterfly from the wonderful WNO, at the Wales Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay. Another opera I’m really looking forward to, having seen this with the Ellen Kent company a few years ago, it will be good to see how the WNO handle this classic opera.

The cast for tonight’s performance  includes David Kempster as Sharpless. Karah Son playing Cio-Cio-San. Jonathan Burton as Pinkerton and Rebecca Afonwy-Jones as Suzuki. The magnificent WNO orchestra is conducted by Lawrence Foster. 

Another beautiful opera written by Puccini (as was La Boheme), and performed to perfection by this brilliant company. Karah Son is absolutely brilliant, such an amazing, beautiful voice, and a huge applause from a very appreciative audience as the curtain came down. Together with Jonathan Burton they make a great vocal pairing, so fabulous to listen to. The second act also gave us the fabulous voice of Rebecca as Suzuki and another chance to hear David Kempster with his Suberb vocal tones as well. As usual the singing from the chorus and the cast was also fabulous just a delight to sit in comfort and wallow in its brilliance.

The set looks stunning, so well thought out, fabulously designed and I must say built to perfection, with everything sliding into place without a fuss. Well worth another visit to this wonderful theatre for another showing. 

La Boheme (2nd performance).

Another Saturday arrives and another show to see tonight, it’s the 4th of February 2017, and I’m back at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay for my 2nd performance of the brilliant La Boheme, from the Welsh National Opera. A fabulous opera from Puccini, so beautifully undertaken by this wonderful company. Having seen this last weekend I’m so looking forward to watching it unfold all over again.

And so to tonight’s performance, with the cast remaining as last week. I’d like to talk about some of the things I never got around to, last time out. As usual the WNO have produced an excellent show. The set is well thought out, with an exquisite front curtain, opening up for the main scenes. A versatile set which changes, with ease as the opera rolls along. The snowy scenes of act two look very realistic, and make you feel cold for a split second, before the fabulous voices on show, quickly warm you back up to normal temperature. Along with the set goes the lighting designs, which add a great deal to the feel of the opera, enhancing the stage presence of each character, with its surroundings. The costumes have a really simple design theme to them, although work extremely well with the plot of this opera, with many of its characters struggling to make ends meet. Another aspect of this production is the use of the children in some of the scenes, with a few sung lines dotted around these particular stages of the opera. Even though they don’t sing an awful lot, they still sound good, as their combined voices resonate around the auditorium. 

Again, during most of this wonderful opera I had a tear in my eye, mainly due to the Superb vocal talent on show here tonight. Another fabulous performance from all on show. So impressed I just wanted to listen to this all night. Still, on the plus side I will hopefully get to see it again before it begins its tour later in the month.

As I said last week, the standard of the voices on show is just magnificent, (which always seems to be the case with the WNO), they never fail to deliver exactly what they set out to achieve. Which is one of the reasons I keep coming back for more every season.