May reviews

Gluck Orfeo ed Euridice

St John’s Smith Square

13/05/18

Richard Fairman for Financial Times 4****

“Countertenor Iestyn Davies took the title role here, singing with the plangency that is his trademark and also impressive authority. Sophie Bevan was his warm-toned Euridice and Rebecca Bottone an unaffected, not over-cute Amor. Bates takes a very expressive view of Gluck’s music, which meant much sustained, thoughtful phrasing and some pulling-about of the tempo.”
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Anna Picard for The Times 4****

“Gluck’s opera is remarkable for its concision. In this reading character and situation were presented in high definition. […] From the Rameauesque pomp of Ah! se intorno a quest’ urna funesta and the agonised repetitions of Euridice’s name by Orfeo (Iestyn Davies) to the bone-china delicacy of Gli sguardi trattieni by Amore (Rebecca Bottone) and the slow seduction of the Furies (with thunder and wind machines), this was a performance in which dissonance and consonance shimmered like petrol on water.”
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Claire Seymour for Opera Today

“And, this was indeed a ‘chiaroscuro’ Orfeo in which Bates, La Nuova Musica and the soloists, especially Davies, shone shafts of light which pierced the darkness, leading to the arresting and exultant illumination of the opera’s conclusion.”
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Sam Smith for musicOMH.com 5*****

“La Nuova Musica’s concert performance of the original 1762 Vienna version, conducted by David Bates, did not include any action or dancing, but this proved no obstacle to it being extremely moving. This is because it revealed how the music itself contains all of the drama and emotion when it is rendered effectively. Here, the strong rhythmic awareness that the ensemble demonstrated helped to keep the emotional colour wheel turning, and this was no better illustrated than in Act II when Orfeo confronts the Furies in his attempt to enter the Underworld. The playing revealed just how much of the ballet lies in the movement generated by the music, as opposed to any physical action. On hearing the chorus members confront Orfeo with the strength of their sound, it felt as if they could have only ever become less formidable had they begun to adopt even just a few arm gestures. Atmosphere was also generated by actually using a wind machine and metal sheet (played from the gallery) to create menacing and thunderous effects.”
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Ruth Hansford for Planethugill.com 4****

“Orfeo is a story about the power of music, and David Bates brought some wonderful things from the band. There was huge variety in the ‘echoes’, the spectacular storm (with thunder and wind coming from the SJSS gallery) at the beginning of Act 2, terrific brass playing throughout, the glorious ‘Elysian Fields’ music with Georgia Browne on solo flute, the arresting harp music from Karen Vaughan, and all the rest.”
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Clare Colvin for The Sunday Express 4****

“Instrumentalists and singers of the lively La Nuova Musica, under conductor David Bates, together with soloists Iestyn Davies as Orfeo, Sophie Bevan as Euridice and Rebecca Bottone as Amore, gave immaculate performances in the graceful setting of St John’s Smith Square.”
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