Review: Appreciative house for annual event

By William Dart

Simon O'Neill has received accolades. Photo / Fraser Harding
Simon O'Neill has received accolades. Photo / Fraser Harding

Audiences have become accustomed to the seemingly inevitable triumph of Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra's annual Opera in Concert.

Verdi's Otello, presented in collaboration with NZ Opera, was no exception, attracting a full house.

Simon O'Neill's stage performances in the title role overseas have received accolades and in this performance he announced himself from the circle with a glorious heldenroar.

Throughout the evening, vocal vigour could not be faulted, yet the subtlest emotions were revealed in the tenor's powerful Dio mi potevi and his final scene with the doomed Desdemona - heard, rather than seen, alas, from the disadvantaged left side of the circle.

Maria Luigia Borsi was an exquisitely nuanced heroine, her soaring Willow Song buoyed on lustrous APO strings.

With a voice able to flick effortlessly from oil to ice, Scott Hendricks' Iago was the embodiment of evil, seducing James Egglestone's affable Cassio into his scheming, as a spider might a fly. Among the smaller roles, Sarah Castle impressed as Emilia, springing passionately to the defence of her wronged mistress.

The APO, conducted con amore by Giordano Bellincampi, created a brilliant fresco out of Verdi's ingenious orchestral colourings. Behind, Freemasons New Zealand Opera Chorus and Viva Voce were magnificent, whether terrified by the opening storm or enjoying the all too brief idyll of Act II's garden scene.

What: Otello

Where: Auckland Town Hall

- NZ Herald

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