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Seen and Heard Concert Review

Angela Gheorghiu in Concert:  Orchestra of Welsh National Opera, Ion Marin (conductor)  Symphony Hall, Birmingham 1.05.2007 (MS)

With a different orchestra from her London concert – though  the same conductor -  it seems that  Angela Gheorghiu really does have it all: stunning looks, a genuine concert hall presence, lovely gowns. Oh yes, and an exquisite voice.

She also enjoys an enviable following judging from the extremely appreciative audience at  Birmingham's splendid Symphony Hall. Not only enviable for its size but also for its age profile the audience showed that this diva has pulling powers that cross generations.

The programme was very similar to what audiences enjoyed in London (see Evan Dickerson's review) and also reflected Ms
Gheorghiu's  recent recording activity, so there was plenty of crowd-pleasing Puccini.

The concert opened with the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera coolly conducted by Ion Marin on firm home ground turn a rousing and dramatic Overture from Nabucco.

Our diva then took to the stage and caressed the audience – no other word will do - with Giordani’s gentle and intoxicating Caro mio ben and an emotionally-filled Lascia ch’io pianga, from Handel’s Rinaldo.  Ms Gheorghiu’s Romanian compatriot, Ion Marin eased Welsh National Opera's  virtuosic orchestra  into Mascagni’s Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana. Leoncavallo’s Stridono Iassu from I Pagliacci neatly brought Ms Gheorghiu back to the stage, closing t the concert's first half with a Ch’il bel sogno di Doretta from La rondine, a perfect vehicle for that beautiful voice.

After the interval, we continued with Puccini  in the shape of In quelle trine morbide from Manon Lescaut and an important gown and hair style change for our leading lady. She then clearly delighted in the opportunity offered by Bizet’s Habanera from Carmen to flirt with and tease  the orchestra, conductor and audience,  although vocally the performance lacked the earthy sexuality of this most famous of mezzo roles.

Time for another gown change next,  leaving the orchestra centre stage for Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture. While the audience had come to see and hear MS Gheorghiu,  this sweeping masterpiece was a welcome bonus.  O mio babbino caro from
Gianni Schicchi and a haunting Un bel di vedremo from Madam Butterfly both sung with awesome control brought this consummate performance to a thrilling – but seemingly speedy – end.

It wasn't quite over however, and having changed into a flamenco-style dress for those last two arias (and despite  having sung the Habanera already) there was little doubt we would have a flurry of encores including another  Spanish flourish. I could have lived without I Could Have Danced All Night, from My Fair Lady, but
Granada proved an appropriately fiery conclusion to the evening.

Mike Smith

Mike Smith runs  the Mediasmith Agency in Cardiff and is responsible for media relations and publicity  for this year's BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition.

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, one of the longest established live music review web sites on the Internet, publishes original reviews of recitals, concerts and opera performances from the UK and internationally. We update often, and sometimes daily, to bring you fast reviews, each of which offers a breadth of knowledge and attention to performance detail that is sometimes difficult for readers to find elsewhere.

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Contributors: Marc Bridle, Martin Anderson, Patrick Burnson, Frank Cadenhead, Colin Clarke, Paul Conway, Geoff Diggines, Sarah Dunlop, Evan Dickerson Melanie Eskenazi (London Editor) Robert J Farr, Abigail Frymann, Göran Forsling,  Simon Hewitt-Jones, Bruce Hodges,Tim Hodgkinson, Martin Hoyle, Bernard Jacobson, Tristan Jakob-Hoff, Ben Killeen, Bill Kenny (Regional Editor), Ian Lace, John Leeman, Sue Loder,Jean Martin, Neil McGowan, Bettina Mara, Robin Mitchell-Boyask, Simon Morgan, Aline Nassif, Anne Ozorio, Ian Pace, John Phillips, Jim Pritchard, John Quinn, Peter Quantrill, Alex Russell, Paul Serotsky, Harvey Steiman, Christopher Thomas, Raymond Walker, John Warnaby, Hans-Theodor Wolhfahrt, Peter Grahame Woolf (Founder & Emeritus Editor)

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