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Review of South Chiltern Choral Society's summer concert

Published: 17 Jul 2013 16:300 comments

COME To The Opera, South Chiltern Choral Society's summer concert in the University of Reading's Great Hall, last Saturday, exceeded all expectations.

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Lisa Wilson, soprano, and Alexandros Tsilogiannis, tenor, were revelations − lovely voices, fabulous techniques and genuine acting ability. They captivated the audience because they were consummate performers and great communicators.

Under the experienced Gwynn Arch, the choir produced a warm, confident sound. Every dynamic subtlety was carefully planned and executed, and no section was over-prominent. The four parts melded into one, the males providing a mellow undercurrent to a judiciously crisp soprano and alto overlay − a clever balance that was totally satisfying on the ear.

The icing on the cake was the choice of opera classics, running the gamut from Handel and Mozart to Puccini, Gershwin and Bernstein.

Well-known arias were cleverly arranged for choir. Other solo arias showcased the soloists in turn, and the sensitive soprano/tenor duets simply transformed the bare boards into an imagined opera set. Pianist Ian Westley was magnificent as the ersatz pit orchestra.

The choir were engaging and expressive in all the Handel arias, especially in Lascia ch'io pianga, and entered into the full spirit of Voi che sapete from Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro.

Puccini was where Lisa Wilson's class shone through in the emotionally-charged extracts from La Bohème and Gianni Schicchi.

Alexandros Tsilogiannis stole every woman's heart in La Donna e mobile and went on to interact charmingly with Lisa Wilson in the love duets from West Side Story and Porgy and Bess.

More of the same followed in Verdi's Brindisi from La Traviata, a gorgeous way to end, involving the entire vocal cast.

A standing ovation from parts of the auditorium said it all − French, Spanish and Italian audiences would have been on their feet.

The next dates for the diary are December 14 and 15 at Chiltern Edge School, in Reade's Lane, for Bob Chilcott's On Christmas Night.

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