- April 2005
KENTISH Opera performed
its first opera in 1951 - a production of Mozart's somewhat risqué
masterpiece Cosi fan tutte which has a subtitle that offers few
favours to the female sex, writes Roy Atterbury.
At the time, the
opera was just beginning to enjoy a popularity that ended some
barren years for the work, but it was a sign of things to come
when the new company avoided the easy option of performing a
very well known opera. Over the years, and now with Sally Langford
as artistic director, Kentish Opera must be one of the leading
pro/am opera companies in the United Kingdom, if not Europe.
Its latest production
of Verdi's Aida had more than 100 performers, stunning scenes,
extremely impressive modular sets by Enid Strutt, military, religious,
royal and other costumes that looked as if they had just been
plucked from the time of the pharaohs (or kings of Egypt).
had designed the costumes to make an impact and she could not
have achieved more. Quite how a director can deal with an opera
lasting almost three hours with such a large chorus, dancers,
acrobats, experts in Shaolin Kung Fu (developed in Japan 1,500
years ago) and, of course the principals, is something that only
Sally Langford can describe.
Certainly the expert
help of dance director Terry John Bates would have helped in
the exciting choreography but the challenge must have been daunting.
Soprano Ruth Kerr
created a magical and sensitive portrayal of the Ethiopian Princess
Aida who had become a slave of Amneris, the Princess of Egypt.
The two roles could
not have been more different, with Aida's gentle simplicity providing
a sharp contrast to the remarkable dramatic power of mezzo soprano
As the army captain
Radames, who is loved by both women, the impressive tenor David
Newman, pictured with Ruth Kerr, created a strong-willed man
with the air of almost poetic romanticism.
His depth of feeling
for Aida permeated the opera throughout and the excellent orchestra
conducted by Mark FitzGerald created a flawless interpretation
of the score. Great bass singing and acting by Gary Coward as
Aida's father, the rich bass of the impressive Freddy Tong, playing
the Egyptian King, and the powerful presence generated by bass
Julian Close as the High Priest, brought a profound air of professionalism
to the action.
Indeed, the death
scene that closes the opera was as emotional as any I have seen.
- Kentish Times