East of the Sun, West of the Moon

Date 16th November 2019
Society Opera Worcester
Venue St Martin's Church Worcester
Type of Production Concert
Musical Director Wilhelm Theunissen
Accompanist Joy Reeve and Elliot Hinton

Report

Author: Louise Hickey MBE for Bruce Wyatt

What a treat! It was my great pleasure to represent Bruce Wyatt at Opera Worcester’s concert last Saturday night. St Martin’s church was a lovely venue for the concert and surprising cosy, considering it was a miserable wet night.

The ensemble opened with the first ‘wow’ number of the evening: ‘East of the Sun, West of the Moon’ sung A Capella. The arrangement was incredibly moving and atmospheric. This was followed by a few songs from the Mikado, sung with much affection by the soloists: Paul Thompson’s faultless rendition of ‘A More Humane Mikado’ was brilliant and he obviously was very familiar with the song, putting in little affectations to give emphasis to the comedic number. The Japanese theme continued with the chorus singing ‘The Yellow Jacket’ from the Land of Smiles by Lehar which had an imperial influence.

Caroline Causier and John Davidson were joined by guest soloist, Luke Swatman, to sing ‘You are my Hearts Delight’ which was well sung, if a little tongue in cheek, and raised a few titters from the audience.

John Davidson and Paul Thompson delighted us with the ‘Pearl Fishers Duet’: the light and shade of the performance was spot on and simply lovely. But then Amy Heptinstall and Patricia Head stepped forward to sing Delibes ‘The Flower Duet’ and it was exquisite! Amy is only 18 and sang with a maturity, way beyond her years. The pair were completely in tune with each other and the harmonious delivery was amazing. ‘And this is my beloved’ holds personal memories for me and John Davidson, Caroline Causier, Paul Ellis and Paul Thompson didn’t disappoint: so well sung and brought to a beautiful climax by Caroline.

The second half of the concert had a ‘Madam Butterfly’ theme. Patricia Head opened with a superb rendition of ‘One Fine Day’ followed by the ensemble performing the ‘Humming Chorus’ which was outstanding. The perfect harmony was a mix of soft hums and ahs sung at the same level of volume throughout, it was stunning.

There was a second guest appearance from Luke Swatman, with Nessun Dorma, which would have been disappointing if it had been anything less than perfect, which indeed it was. The second guest Frankie Blinco sang ‘Why God Why’ from Miss Saigon well, however I did feel that he would have benefitted from a maturity, yet to be reached, to sing this powerful number.  Catherine Barrett and Suzanne Millington delivered a fine execution of ‘I still Believe’, again from Miss Saigon before they moved onto a Rogers and Hammerstein section. From the King and I, Suzanne Millington and chorus did ‘Hello young Lovers which was gorgeous, and Suzanne then proceeded to give us a moving interpretation of ‘Something Wonderful’ which was simply wonderful.

The penultimate section was a medley of songs from South Pacific and the relatively unknown Flower Drum Song which threw everything at us; pathos, humour, highs and lows. It was yet another fantastic musical arrangement.

The closing number was again ‘East of the Sun, West of the Moon’ but this time, with accompaniment and completed what was a sublime programme of stunning music from an outstanding group of singers. Congratulations to Musical Director Wilhelm Theunissen, for the overall performance which was marvelous.