The Telephone & Gianni Schicchi

Date 15th April 2017
Society North Norfolk Chamber Opera
Venue Auden Theatre, Greshams, Holt
Type of Production Opera
Director Susie Self and Desmond Holmes
Musical Director Susie Self


Author: Susan DuPont

How very fortunate you are to secure the time and inspiration of the very talented and experienced Susie Self on the musical side and, with Karen Smith accompanying, what an exceptional team to lead the proceedings.

This double bill is ideal for NNCO and the starter of Menotti’s ‘The Telephone’ such fun and so highly appropriate in these days of mobile phones and the interruption of conversation.   Susie Self brought together the duo of Sky Carver and Des Holmes into a most amusing interlude with him finally giving up and defeated by the telephone until he had the brilliant notion of using it himself. Sky Carver had all the coloratura trills and notes in full force, glamour and style and personality as the desired; and Des the smooth notes and counterpoint within the score as he pursued his purpose. It is a long time since seeing this piece and it was good to see it aired again.

To the main course and ‘Gianni Schicchi’ is the fun finale in the Puccini trio sequence and offered Des Holmes the chance to ask each character to create a personality within the family (nice groupings within the staging), to offer some very good ensemble work for the group with them around the bed of Buoso Donati.   A death, a funeral and a will always brings out the worst in a family with each one wondering who will inherit and which part of the estate they wish for, and this offers so many opportunities for solos and lines and conversations and so all named characters of sister/cousin/nephew and niece/daughter/and others had their chance to shine.   The interplay and interactions between characters heightened the humour into many funny moments, including, of course, the will re-writing with Lawyer, Des Holmes.

The young lovers looked most appropriate with the inclusion of Tristan Stocks by invitation for Rinuccio from his professional engagements as tenor elsewhere.   Matching him as the sweet Lauretta, Melissa Sampson gave her all especially in the set piece ‘Oh my beloved father’ (only this translation ‘Daddy’!).

And in the title role, and dominating in stature and character, Andrew Masterson came up with all those many rich notes as he played the rest of the cast into second place, where did you find him, and do try to keep him on board as he is a treasure.