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Review of Opera North at Sage Gateshead

Posted on 9 April 2010

Orchestra of Opera North at Sage Gateshead

David Denton, Yorkshire Post *****

Having spent a lifetime hearing concerts in Leeds Town Hall, listening to music in the ideal acoustics of Gateshead’s The Sage was as if we had arrived on another planet. It is only an hour’s drive up the motorway, and this sonic experience is worth every single mile.

From the beautifully transparent sounds to the spine-tingling impact that thrilled in a high-octane and superb performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, the Huddersfield Choral Society have never sounded in finer voice and revelled in their wonderful surroundings.

It was conducted by Bramwell Tovey, who dragged every last drop of bawdy humour from the score, aided and abetted by the acting of the tenor, John Graham-Hall, and a familiar face at Opera North, the powerful baritone of William Dazeley.

Though I often write of the outstanding qualities of the Opera North Orchestra, hearing them here was a whole new experience, and had started out with the delicacy of Grainger’s arrangement of Ravel’s La vallée des cloches.

Susan Gritton, who sang the small but taxing part in Carmina, was also the soloist in Ravel’s song cycle, Sheherazade, her hushed singing of exquisite quality, opening out with a perfectly rounded voice that easily dominated the orchestra.

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