GEORGE NEWS - On Sunday afternoon three outstanding voices with one superb pianist from the UCT Opera School entertained a smallish but very enthusiastic audience in the Oakhurst Insurance George Arts Theatre.
Brought to George by our Music Society and sponsored by the Rupert Foundation, these four talented musicians filled the theatre with sound - without the use of microphones so beloved by pop singers.
The challenge of bringing opera to the masses in concert form is for the singers to get into "character" without the benefit of costumes, scenery and surrounding plot. This the singers managed to do most convincingly.
The piano transcriptions of orchestral scores are intricate and require nimble fingering and big chords. The pianist, Lisa Engelbrecht, is the head vocal coach of the opera school and, along with the various other hats she wears, is an excellent and supportive accompanist.
The first half of the programme was made up of works by Mozart, Donizetti and a Rossini aria.
My only criticism is that these works were all too similar. Both Ané Pretorius and Brittany Smith have good strong voices with controlled top notes and the skill to perform the vocal gymnastics required by these composers. Luvuyo Mbundu has a slight frame from which issues a big baritone voice.
During the concert he captured the characters of Figaro, Maletesta and Faust most convincingly.
The second half contained selections from Gounod, Puccini, Delibes and Verdi. Particularly memorable was the very popular Flower Duet from Lakme, sung beautifully by both sopranos with no histrionics. The concert ended with Enrico Morricone's Nella Fantasia sung by all three singers and earning rapturous applause.
As an encore, we were treated to Gershwin's Summertime from his opera Porgy and Bess.
This was exquisitely sung by Brittany Smith with gentle harmonised humming from her colleagues.
Obviously opera is alive and well at the University of Cape Town. We look forward to another visit from these talented young musicians and wish them well in their future careers.
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