Night at the opera hits the high spots

SINGING opera for a living is not always as romantic as it sounds, up there on stage trying to hit notes.

But surely it doesn’t come better than singing the world’s finest love songs to each other when you are husband and wife?

So when Newick tenor Andrew Rees told his wife and mother of two children Jo Appleby while they shared a searing Tosca duet “We are always in love, darling” you couldn’t help but feel it was more than just a charming part of the act. Then they got to share the gorgeous “Tonight” duet from West Side Story and the arguments over the dishes couldn’t help but dissolve.

It was indeed a heart-warming evening all round, with plenty of lighter moments among beautiful arias of sadness and courage from the excellent quartet of Voices Live soloists.

Trading Boundaries had wisely switched their splendidly entertaining evening of opera and show tunes indoors from the shower soaked gardens.

There was not a dud moment in this gig as the singers captured the joy, grief, rapture, lust and longing of life in tunes as diverse as Appleby’s soaring and elegant familiar opener O Mio Babbino Caro and Rees’s wonderfully soulful and affecting Bring Him Home from Les Miserables.

Two benefits of being indoors were the added intimacy and the more certain accoustic environment for the performers, who were given a consistent and often lively platform by the eight-piece chamber orchestra. With no props at hand to support the arias, the spotlight honed like a laser on the singing and the soloists did a good job fleshing out the characters.

Baritone James Cleverton showed mellow and never-wavering tone throughout, though his standout performance was a slightly less serious one, a dazzling feat of verbal note-perfect dexterity in the fast and bombastic Figaro aria from the Barber of Seville.

Mezzo soprano Louise Armit did a nice line in vocal seduction from Carmen, and an even better line in charm and lyricism in the Flower Seller’s duet by Delibes (Sous le Dome Epais), where she layered and dovetailed her sound exquisitely with Miss Appleby.

Call it a Greatest Hits evening if you like. But as someone who often struggles with recitative in operas I was glad a quartet as talented as this did the editing for me.

Phil Dennett