Review: Tell Me The Truth About Love at St Michael's Church, Highgate Village
PUBLISHED: 14:48 08 August 2018 | UPDATED: 14:48 08 August 2018
David Conway, Hampstead Garden Opera's new Chair, took the pulpit to announce that Facebook had taken down HGO's posting " .. for promoting sexual services" - it certainly was a strange start to a concert!
The post had featured Titian’s masterpiece “Sacred and Profane Love”. Not only were we in for some fabulous singing but had already received a lesson on the limits of the algorithm.
Despite this idiocy and the onset of the August holiday season, there was almost a full house for four HGO regulars performance of twenty five pieces from well known and less performed operas clustered into themes about love – Pure Love, Love at first Sight, Lost Love, Seduction ... .
To set the mood, the four offered Britten’s setting of Auden’s charming and playful 30s poem Tell me the Truth about Love. Then, straight into Seduction with Rachael Cox’s gorgeous mezzo coquettishly purring round Bizet’s Habenera.
Baritone Alex Aldren laid his cards on the table about the challenge of singing a piece from Puccini’s La Boheme on a night when temperatures were still in the high twenties! Few hands in St Michael’s were either tiny or frozen but his delivery melted many hearts.
The first show stopper was Rosanna Harris’ O mio babbino – her crystal soprano soaring on the superb acoustic.
No-one could match Lawrence Wallington for dramatic effect: post interval and wearing a Reservoir Dogs suit he strode up and down the nave in a robust and rousing rendering of Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre from Carmen. Magnificent!
Clearly a lot of time and care went into the selection of the 25 pieces. Concert director Chris Hopkins was perfect on piano but perhaps the inclusion of a violin might have added more creative options.
A beautiful evening in a beautiful setting.