As the title suggests, this was an evening of opera extracts, some old favourites but also some lovely, perhaps less-known music. It featured the big, glorious voices of soloists Paula Sides (soprano) and Gareth Morris (tenor), along with Todmorden Orchestra and Todmorden Choral Society.
Verdi’s “La Traviata” opened, with the overture and its yearning feel, followed by the chorus in the vigorous drinking song (“brindisi”). The soloists then added their rich voices to the celebration.
The orchestra featured alone in the intermezzo from” Manon Lescaut” (Puccini), with its atmospheric description of the sea and a sense of the sadness of voyaging into exile. There was also a beautiful rendering of the peaceful Prelude from Mussorgsky’s “Khovanshchina”.
The chorus starred in the Peasants’ Chorus from Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin”. They conveyed the feelings of the peasants at harvest time, reflecting on their hard work but eventually celebrating success.
The audience loved both soloists. Especial favourites were Paula Sides as Lucia in the mad scene from Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” and Gareth Morris as the aspiring hero Calaf in “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot. This reviewer also loved the beautiful tone and expressiveness of Paula Sides as Norma in the prayerful “Casta Diva” from Bellini’s “Norma”, and Gareth Morris as Lensky in an aria from “Eugene Onegin”. He brought out the deep sadness of Lensky, who once had everything to live for but who is about to fight a duel.
Another audience favourite was the beautiful love duet from Puccini’s “La Bohème”, in which the gorgeous voices blended as the lovers came together.
The concert concluded with a vigorous performance from the orchestra of Wagner’s “The Ride of the Valkyries”.