In keeping with the musical theme, I also went to see Anna Netrebko and Dmitri Hvorostovsky at the Royal Festival Hall.
It was an interesting night, with dancing and dress-changes from Anna, and the tightest trousers on earth from Dmitri. The singing was first class, with Netrebko’s high notes soaring across the auditorium, and Dmitri’s dark baritone enchanting the crowd.
What caught my eye was the number of young people, and the number of non opera-goers, that were there. Perhaps the glamour of the two soloists drew in a more mixed crowd for the occasion? Who knows – but it was nice to see more people engage with the Opera world.
The Orchestra was fantastic, and the lead cellist seemed to be having a great time! Overall, a slick, well-produced show, full of both glamour and substance, and two encores. I’m glad I went.
My personal favourites for the evening were:
Dvořák’s Song to the Moon (video made by pavelrysavy, see his YouTube channel here)
Wagner’s Abenstern (video made by jesterimb, see his YouTube channel here)
Verdi’s Overture from La forza del destino (video made by pozzil. see pozzil's YouTube channel here)
The full program is listed below:
William Tell Overture – Rossini
‘Abendstern’ (Wolfram’s Aria from Tannhäuser) – Wagner
Cäcilie – Strauss
Rákóczy March (from La damnation de Faust) – Berlioz
‘Avant de quitter ces lieux’ (from Faust) – Gounod
‘Jewel Song’ (from Faust) – Gounod
Intermezzo (from I Pagliacci) – Leoncavallo
‘Nedda! Silvio, a quest’ora’ (from I Pagliacci) – Leoncavallo
La Forza del destino Overture – Verdi
Il bacio – Ardiyi‘Cortigiani vil razza’ (from Rigoletto) – Verdi
Song to the Moon (from Rusalka) – Dvořák
Yeletsky’s Aria (from La Pique Dame) – Tchaikovsky
Polonaise (from Eugene Onegin) – Tchaikovsky
Closing Duet (from Eugene Onegin) – Tchaikovsky
Recently, I went to see a concert at the Wigmore Hall in Wigmore Street, London. Here I saw Sara Mingardo, a Contralto hailing from Venice. Sara is one of the few true Contraltos in the Classical music world, other notables being Ewa Podles, Marijana Mijanovic, Sonia Prina, and Nathalie Stutzmann. (The Contralto is the lowest of the female singing voices and in classical music, most performers that sing Contraltos roles are in fact Mezzo Sopranos, which is the next voice up).
Mingardo is not what many would view as a typical Contralto - visions of very large women singing roles like Wagner's Erda, for example, come to mind - yet she has a rich, dark tone, and a freely resonating chest register, coupled with stunning flexibility, which allows her to perform baroque music with ease.
With respect to her performance, Mingardo was humble and understated, yet she had great presence and was able to carry the emotions of her audience with her. I look forward to hearing her again.
Sara sang a range of Arias, starting with three from Handel's Opera Radamisto:
Cara Sposa, amato bene
Perfido, di'a quell'empio tiranno
She then sang two Arias from Handel's Tolomeo:
Se un solo èquel core
And finished by performing a secular Cantata by her Venetian compatriot Antonio Vivaldi:
Cessate, omai cessate
She gave one encore, performing Ombra mai fu, from Handel's Xerxes.
Do check out her album Sara Mingardo: Contralto - a fantastic showcase of her vocal talents. The album was released by the Naïve Recording Label.