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Giuseppe Verdi: La forza del destino

Gweneth-Ann Jeffers Leonora
Robert Poulton Don Carlo
Peter Auty Alvaro
Brindley Sherratt Guardiano
Donald Maxwell Melitone

Chelsea Opera Group Orchestra/Chorus/Robin Newton

Queen Elizabeth Hall, London 25 March 2012

An exciting concert performance by Chelsea Opera Group of the earlier the 4 act original version, which has a shorter overture, an additional tenor aria, and a finale of 'bitter catastrophe rather than religious consolation'.

The Queen Elizabeth Hall was packed with an audience of mainly 'seniors', the orchestra likewise (mainly non-professonal, so I I understand?) and the soloists were every single one them mature artists in fine voice (including two superb, powerful basses) - none overwhelmed by the large orchestra being not buried in a pit.

COG's almost entirely amateur orchestra was fully worthy of the care put into this event by Robin Newton (who had been extensively associated with Opera Rara- see our review of the Opera Rara CDs of this version; now c.£40 from Amazon). Notable solos at QEH were to be admired from the leader, Diana Cummings, and the 1st clarinettist Alan Maries.

No photos allowed, sadly, so instead I show you an image of the the rarely seen cimbasso, its exponent David Young, sitting where you might have expected a tuba!

This concert was being recorded with an array of microphones (for what destination was not stated) but I gather that Chelsea Opera Group records all its major concerts for private consumption; surely this one was good enough to be worth releasing commercially?

The border line between best of the not wholly-professional opera companies and minor opera house productions which are often limited by production costs is getting ever narrower, with interesting repertoire ofte the decider. It must be hard for the international site TheOperaCritic, based in New Zealand, to know where to draw the line; regrettable, though understandable, that the first modern staged production of a late Rameau opera hasn't quite made it into their their columns.

Peter Grahame Woolf