MAGICAL MOZART by CANDLELIGHT
NEW WOLSEY THEATRE, 24TH OCTOBER 2016
Two anniversaries this year along with the Bard’s: 25 years since the birth of Miss Saigon and 225 years since Mozart’s death. A colleague once described the former as ‘one tune, average vocals and a helicopter.’ Magical Mozart could, in return, be labelled ‘magnificent melodies, excellent singing and a train wreck! ‘
We walked into a sumptuous set taking us to a world of late 18th century Vienna. A chamber, where the most popular Mozart arias were to be dramatised and punctuated by his well-loved orchestral pieces (Eine Kleine still getting the biggest applause of the night.) It was an intimate, well-lit, beautiful stage where one could imagine Mozart himself holding one of his many musical soirées with his wife Constanze. It was also very encouraging to see such a large audience. Mozart can still pull in a crowd.
On came the scratch orchestra (in more ways than one), dressed in period costume and we were introduced to the 3 singers who valiantly tackled some of the most challenging arias/ duets/ trios of the vocal repertoire. Bright, clear, agile soprano voices and an excellent baritone who not only interpreted the Da Ponte text with aplomb, but also gave us the spirit of Mozart with his consummate musicianship.
Unfortunately the production was let down by a band who neither had had the time to practise as an ensemble, nor even learn the notes. That’s if they had the right ones in front of them. Cringeworthy pauses in the first half where no one knew which piece came next, and the flautist had to go backstage and ‘find a singer’. Making classical music more accessible is one thing. Dropping standards and professionalism is quite another.
The Second Act ran smoothly. The band had been given a talking to, music was in order and we relished in a feisty Come Scoglio, an effortlessly beautiful Porgio Amor and a gallant Non Più Andrai, all rounded off with an ‘outro’ of Rondo alla Turca which we were all encouraged to clap along to. Whoops (literally) and cheers from the appreciative crowd who had heard some of their favourite music delivered with drama and a couple of laughs too.