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Opera and Voice at Kings Place, London

Haydn and Mozart - Classical Opera Company


Haydn: Armida “Odio, furor, dispetto, dolor”; La fedelta premista “Miseri affetti miei, povera fedelta; Die Feuersbrunst “Wie wallet mein Herze von zartlichen trieben”; La vera costanza “Misera, chi m’aiuta, dove fuggo”; L’incontro improvviso “Deh, se in ciel pietade avete”; L’anima del filosofo “Dov’e l’amato bene”

Mozart: Mitridate “nel sen mi palpita dolente il core”; “Gia dagl’occhi il vel e tolto”; Ascania in Alba “Infelice affetti miei; “Cara, lontano ancora”; Lucio Silla “Pupille amate, non lagrimate”; “In un instante, parto m’affretto”

Sophie Bevan – soprano

Rebecca Ryan – soprano

James Laing – counter tenor

Allan Clayton – tenor

Ian Page - piano

Kings Place – 1 October 2008

If the average London opera fan was to be asked to travel north of Euston, the reaction might be the same as a cabbie asked to go south of the river; ‘Don’t go there, Guv!’  This attitude may well change now as a result of a new classical venue, Kings Place, opened this week at Kings Cross.

An impressive building, it houses two concert halls, three rehearsal rooms, lecture hall, sculpture court, art gallery and restaurant. 

The three-quarter hour Mozart and Haydn selection, one of a hundred events in Kings Place's opening festival, was given in the larger (420 seat) hall, illustrated from the piano page-turner's viewpoint; traditional shoe box in form, lined wholly in oak – enough wood to repair the Cutty Sark, I would imagine. The acoustics are kind to voices – though several singers produced too much volume.  Comparing Stalls with the Gallery suggested that the sound drifted upwards to the benefit of the latter area. Seating is comfortable.

The accompanist, Ian Page, set the scene for each aria in his inimitable way.  All the soloists were accomplished singers; counter tenor James Laing, made a considerable impression. In his Mitridate item he revealed a very smooth counter tenor without any hootiness.  The brisk excerpt from Ascania in Alba which followed exhibited his fluency in coloratura, remarkable in such a young singer, together with an awareness of the musical structure of the piece.  Although not a devotee of Opera Seria I certainly look forward to the return of the Classical Opera Company later in the season, if they can produce artists of this calibre. 

The question remains, however, whether a sufficient number of patrons can be persuaded that the once notorious Kings Cross district is now a suitable venue for the performance of music and other programmes planned by the enterprising Mr Millican?  In these uncertain times, any such venture take a lot of courage and it is hoped that his optimism will be rewarded as it deserves.

Stuart Jenkin

Ascania in Alba
will be presented in full by the Classical Opera Company at Kings Place on 4th & 6th December 2008: Kings Place 90 York Way, London N1
(020 7520 1490)

Royal Academy Opera Showcase

Bizet: Les Pecheurs de Perles – Act 1 Duet

Handel: Serse – Act 3 Recit, Aria

Mozart: Cosi fan tutte – Act 1 Recit, Quintet, Trio

Leoncavallo: I pagliacci – Act 1 duet

Rossini: Il viaggio a Reims – Gran pezzo concertante a 14 Voci


Royal Academy Opera

Producer John Ramster


Kings Place, – 2 October 2008

This event was a shortened reprise of the excellent Scenes at RAM in June.  A number of singers have moved on and their roles taken over by members of this year’s opera course, and of course John Ramster’s excellent direction had been revised to fit the platform of Hall One, Kings Place, which seemed rather cramped. Hall One is fully lined with oak – very thin slices to be sure, since all the wood was cut from a single German tree – and the result is a lively acoustic, with every sound projected with absolute clarity to the audience.  It’s very unforgiving of errors, with the slightest forcing of a voice or excessive volume being cruelly revealed.   A number of young singers fell into this trap, notable amongst those who didn’t was the Chinese tenor Lei Shao, whose carefully crafted lead in the famous Pearl Fisher’s duet was a sheer delight.

The conclusion to Act 1 of Mozart's Cosi fan tutte showed all five voices to good advantage, although I will single out for mention the Dorabella of Miranda Makryniotis (who had greatly impressed me as Frederick in Mignon in June, a tableau sadly not repeated on this occasion), and the ever dependable George Humphreys, colouring his voice appropriately and just succeeding in looking old enough for Don Alfonso.

Rossini’s Il viaggio a Reims once again proved a romping finale, but the considerable feat of pulling an ensemble of 14 voices together, in a space where sight lines to the conductor were difficult, was as dazzling and enjoyable as the visual spectacle!


Serena Fenwick


See also Kings Place Opening Festival http://www.musicalpointers.co.uk/reviews/LiveEvents08/KingsPlaceOpening.html