Classical review: Viennese Whirl – Orchestra of Opera North ‘scintillating’
This New Year special concert under the masterful and majestical leadership of John Rigby conducting the transcendent Orchestra of Opera North begins with Johann Strauss II’s flighty and fanciful Eine Nacht in Venedig. The lilting strings conjure up those heady days in Vienna when the aristocracy would waltz their way through evenings of opulent decadence.
The orchestra are sparkling and sublime throughout the night and the proceedings benefit from the cheeky but thoughtful and incisive narration of Classic FM’s John Suchet. He explains the story behind The Laughing Song when a humble servant girl adorned herself on finery and at the ball, upon being caught out by her master, rather than confess instead mocks her master, teasing him: ‘How foolish yourself has been!’
Soprano Jennifer France looks as delightful and divine in her courtly attire as she sounds, her voice soaring in sonorous waves, resplendent and utterly endearing. The Laughing Song is followed by an equally exquisite rendition of Franz Lehar’s Die Wustige Witwe, a folk tale of a maid of the woods and a huntsman’s unrequited love. Perfect catharsis for the New Year blues!
The romanticism continues with Carl Zeller’s Roses in Tyrol where to give roses means to give your heart also, and this has a funny kind of folk humour to it too. Other highlights of the evening include France’s talented take on Richard Strauss’ Amor and the perfectly poetic and poignant My Dream, My Dream by Emmerich Halman. It seems there is no end to France’s vocal talent as she seductively sings Lehar’s Meine Lippen, sie kussen so heiss. This scintillating show climaxes with the Blue Danube, which drifts over the enthusiastic audience as gently as the famous river itself.
Reviewed by Rich Jevons on 31 December 2015 at Leeds Town Hall.