The ‘Opera of Ages’ was a one night only show put on by the Durham Opera Ensemble, and if only there were more performances! It was an impressive spectacle which was put on with plenty of thought and skill.
The premise for the show was an interesting one in its combination of genres, Rock and Opera. The cast performed a collection of well-chosen ballads ranging from ‘Summertime’ by Gershwin, to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen. It seemed to start with a story-line, but this unfortunately filtered out about half-way through. Although it may have been better to have enhanced this idea a little more, it did not take away from the magic of the show.
The show was professionally done, and programme was well put-together, with Ava Merrell giving a speech to explain a little about the premise of the show at the beginning. The idea was her own and it was obvious that her and the Musical Director Josh Ridley had worked hard to pull it off, which they truly did! The opening piece was ‘The Magic Flute Overture’ by Mozart but with ‘Rock’ undertones which was cleverly done and prepared us for the rest of the show’s performances.
There were some particularly impressive acts, especially some of the more operatic ones. Gus de Tomasso showed us a powerful voice in one of the opening numbers and I personally love Dvorak’s ‘Song to the Moon’, so it was wonderful that Serena Holbech’s beautiful rendition did not disappoint. Abigail Ingram’s voice sang out in ‘Pur ti miro’ as did Catherine Bench’s in Purcell’s ‘Cold Genius’ and Rowena Ashby’s in ‘Gypsy Girl’. There were beautiful harmonies all throughout the night too, which complemented the performances and deserve a mention.
Alongside performance though, the show also managed to add in some more comedic moments. Merrell used the contrast between Opera and Rock as a source of amusement which the audience loved with ‘Highway to Hell’ being a particular favourite. It was a shame however that occasionally the orchestra overpowered the singers, but it has to be taken into account that opera is sung without microphones, so this was perhaps to be expected in certain places.
In the beginning the cast didn’t seem to have a huge amount of confidence in some of the choreographed numbers, but as the show went on they warmed up to their roles. The second half showed some great moves, which deserved a special commendation as it must have been especially difficult to coordinate with such a huge cast!
It was lovely to see something a little different in Durham, and to see a show that the cast enjoyed doing just as much as the audience enjoyed watching. Well done to everyone involved!