Opera in the City Festival Double Bill – Bridewell Theatre, London

Composer: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Zanetto Composer: Pietro Mascagni
Musical Director: Andrew Charity
Stage Director: Pamela Schermann
Reviewer: Karl O’Doherty

In a strong start to their six-show Opera in the City festival, Time Zone Theatre has mounted the quirky but profound Mozart & Salieri from Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and a story of frustrated love in Pietro Mascagni’s Zanetto.

tell-us-block_editedIn the first, we see a dense story, shot through with comedy and something darker, as the composer Antonio Salieri frets and struggles to come to terms with his jealousy of his friend Mozart’s talent. Levity is matched with weight as Salieri ponders guilt, envy, mortality and genius. All this comes courtesy of Nick Dwyer’s soothing tones, a rich and deep voice that washes smoothly around this former swimming pool’s walls. As Mozart, his friend and target, Roger Paterson is a chipper and energetic fellow – providing clear colour and bounce to the music.

The story is tight, the singing super, the simple staging (making use of the handy balcony of the venue) and even the attempted juggling is very enjoyable. Not entirely sure, however, about the accompaniment of just piano and violin – played well but at times sounded thin and incomplete.

The accompaniment problem was extended into the second half of the double bill – Pietro Mascagni’s Zanetto. Turning the story around from a rich widow struggling to give in to her feelings of love for a wandering male poet, to one where the wanderer is a female guitarist and entertainer was a great choice. It strikes into many ideas a traditional male/female dynamic would have struggled with – and ends up showcasing loneliness, love, shame and regret to a very intimate degree.

Zanetto | Image: Lidia Crisafulli

The singing from Becca Marriott (Silvia) and Sophie Goldrick (Zanetto) is a blast. Powerful vocals, clear notes throughout and super tone. At times through the passages it was difficult to follow the new English translation (whether it was the acoustic’s of the room or something else, there was a problem with hearing the words, not that the text itself was tough) so the story nuances were either lost or a little strained, but the overall effect remained.

Musical director Andrew Charity and stage director Pamela Schermann alongside their creative team should take this beginning as a good omen for the rest of the festival – two accessible, creative and enjoyable short operas.

Remaining performances on 3 and 4 August 2017 | Main Image: Time Zone Theatre

Review Overview

The Reviews Hub Score

Short and very sweet

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