HGO Summer Concert: showcase for talented young opera voices

Annie Reilly and Camilla Harris perform at the HGO Summer Concert in St Michael's Church Highgate

Camilla Harris and Annie Reilly perform at the HGO Summer Concert in St Michael's Church Highgate - Credit: David Winskill

HGO Summer Concert Of Love and Life

St Michael’s Church, Highgate

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A favourite with north London music lovers, HGO’s annual summer concert in Highgate's beautiful St Michael’s Church, offers a much-needed showcase for opera’s young, talented voices.

Other than a Rolling Stones concert, there are few events that include works from so broad a time span!

The opening Vivaldi’s Sol per te (1727) was delivered by the fine counter tenor Ralph Thomas Williams, establishing the high standard for the rest of the evening. That was followed by Martins Smaukstelis’ wonderfully animated tenor, filling the space with a piece from Donizetti.

The first real show stopper was John Adams’ Dr Atomic (2005). Annie Reilly’s approach was spot on: a combination of the mundane with an undertow of threat, perhaps echoing the realisation of a new generation that nuclear conflict is no longer confined to history.

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Reilly remained on stage (joined by Thomas Williams) but stepped back 350 years for a sensational love duet from Cavalli’s La Calisto.

Later he and the excellent soprano Camilla Harris moved the audience to tears with the tender and sad valedictory duet from Handel’s Rodelinda. Light relief came with the confrontation in Bizet’s Carmen (Je suis Escamillo) between Smaukstelis and baritone Louis Hurst as they sized each other up though for an impending bar fight.

Following a generous interval, the two pieces from Eugene Onegin were excellent; Smaukstelis' mournful and plaintiff and Hurst's brushing off of Olga was business-like but brutal.

After some delightful pieces from Mozart (including a fun and frothy duet from Cosi fan tutte delivered with simple joy by Reilly and Harris) the five soloists united for the rousing Bruderlein from Die Fledermaus.

The HGO Summer Concert in St Michael's Church Highgate

The HGO Summer Concert in St Michael's Church Highgate - Credit: David Winskill

The evening was a reminder of the exceptional pool of young talent and a tribute to the incredible work that HGO undertakes to nurture it.