Picture the scene. The lovely tented square in stylish Puerto Calero, next to the yachts and boats. The sun setting in the background turns the sky pink. A warm night with a gentle breeze.
Maestro Music Management’s ‘Night at the Opera’ presented a wonderful range of well-known arias sung by the type of professional opera singers who never need microphones because their voices are so strong. Sadly, only about 60% of the seats had been sold. They had erected walls around the event which gave the impression of hospital screens and the diners on the second floor got a great free view of the show anyway! The plastic seats were covered with white chair covers loaned by a wedding company but were still uncomfortable and I’m glad I took a cushion.
To piano backing only, we were treated to 4 superb singers who showed a wide slice of their repertoire with some well known tunes. What does it matter that we know many of these tunes because they’ve been used on TV adverts? They were great tunes before that, which is why they were chosen. It’s said that a sign of sophistication is to hear the William Tell Overture and not think of the Lone Ranger! With the success of TV shows like ‘Popstar to Operastar’, ‘Britian’s Got Talent’ and others, several of these classics are being heard by a new audience so The Pearl Fishers, One Fine Day from Madame Butterfly and Brindisi are well-known tunes.
Perhaps the best known, Puccini’s Nessun Dorma, was left to the last and tackled by the tenor, Bonaventura Bottone. I’m sure he’s sung it lots of times before but this must have been memorable for him. As he started the slow introduction, a huge fireworks display went off in the Marina and a rather startled cat ran the full width of the stage! This was no doubt one of the local cats who is normally to be found snoring on the sofas of the Casablanca Bar. Undeterred by the increasing cacophony of fireworks around him, Mr Bottone carried on with the aria, even though the pianist looked like she wanted to stop. She’d previously lost some sheet music to the wind and was bemused by its disappearance. The final verse talks about ‘dissolving the silence’ but by this time, the firework display had finished and the final well-known flourish brought the house down. He received a standing ovation for his determination to finish the song. ‘Nessum Dorma’ means ‘none shall sleep’ and that turned out to be true!
There were 4 soloists and the soprano had stepped in at the last moment for Naomi Harvey who had had appendicitis. We were told her name and I apologise that I don’t have it now as she had a superb voice. The mezzo soprano, Deborah Hawksley came into her own with a Gershwin song called the Song of the Flame. It’s also known as ‘the vodka song’ and she made the song totally vivid to all, even for those couldn’t understand Gershwin’s clever lyrics.
The baritone, John Morgan, had a powerful voice too and he and Mr Bottone sang ‘O Sole Mio’ as an encore. The audience loved the show but it was pity it was so poorly attended. They have Piano Extravaganza for 8 hands due in September and swing jazz in October. It’s certainly a wonderful setting for a show.
Photographs: James Mitchell
A Night at the Opera