Kennet Opera - Die Fledermaus
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Kennet Opera - Die Fledermaus

17th to 19th November 2011.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Laughing song a highlight of opera

Kennet Opera: Die Fledermaus, at the Corn Exchange, from Thursday, November 17 to Saturday, November 19

Much praise must go to Kennet Opera for continuing to undertake the problems involved in staging an opera for the people of Newbury. This year, their choice fell on Johann Strauss II's Die Fledermaus, directed by Rowena Robinson and performed on this occasion in modern dress, a decision which worked well.

For amateur societies, a major difficulty is finding soloists who can not only sing but act as well. Able to do both was Gordon Fry in the major role of Gabriel Eisenstein, who goes in disguise to Prince Orlofsky's party the night before he begins a prison sentence.

His assurance in the two skills was matched by Andy Spaak as Alfred, would-be lover of Rosalinda, Eisenstein's wife. His acting has blossomed and this was a very funny performance, as was that of John Heywood, playing Frank the prison governor, another very competent actor/singer.

Lydia Finch (Adele - maid to Rosalinda) has a glorious voice, though her acting started nervously. It improved tremendously as the opera progressed and anyway l could forgive her everything for the superb Laughing Song - a highlight of this show.

The part of Rosalinda requires a good singer and the experienced Sally de Frates' strong musical voice ensured a good balance in the enjoyable ensembles, as well as performing well in her solos. However, I felt that though she acted adequately, she was not comfortable with that side of things - and this role demands much of the performer.

Quick mention... Don Crerar as head gaoler Frosch - hilarious.

The chorus sang positively, accurately, melodically and moved well - what more can you ask? All the chorus numbers were obviously enjoyed by the performers as much as by the audience (a small niggle is the chorus' tendency to keep to the back of the stage which occasionally left brave souls who did venture forward rather exposed).

There were several young faces in musical director Rebecca Berkley's orchestra who coped well with this lively score and with the old problem of not overwhelming the soloists because of the lack of a pit. Congratulations to them.

Always popular, Die Fledermaus was a good choice, happily resulting in excellent ticket sales.

Well done Kennet Opera.

CAROLINE FRANKLIN