Una Voce Opera Gala Concert
St George's Hall Concert Room, Liverpool
12th March 2016
Founded in 1996 'to bring Opera to all and all to Opera' this was a concert
to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the . Held in the auspicious surroundings of St George's Hall's
Concert Room it promised an evening of favourite arias and duets by rising
With a full complement of dignitaries in attendance it must have been
disappointing for the organisers that there were not more attendees in
the crowd to witness the event.
Nevertheless after some introductions from the floor the evening got
underway with a change to the advertised programme, Ugandan baritone Terence
Ayebare being called in at short notice for the indisposed Darwin Leonard
Undaunted, to warm applause, he opened proceedings with an aria from
Mozart's The Magic Flute and continued with a duet from the same composer
with Natasha Agarwal (soprano), in La ci darem a mano, ('there we will
give each other our hands') from Don Giovanni.
The couple sang into a spotlight that splendidly lit up themselves and
a preordained caryatid from those holding up the roof with it's spectacular
Unfortunately it was also like a burning disc reflecting into the eyes
of those in the raised section to the left of the stage. This prompted
some shifting of lesser personages to seats where the gilded backdrop
pillars offered relief to their straining eyes.
The programme continued with a Susannah bridal aria from The Marraige
of Figaro testing the Liverpool born soprano, before more from the very
Next up was another Soprano, Eilin O'Dea from Ireland. She sang the ever
popular Si mi chiamano Mimi (Yes they call me Mimi), from Puccini's La
Tenor Benjamin Sweeney then took centre stage with an aria from Verdi's
Luisa Miller, to be followed by young saxophonist Ehren Agarwal, in three
movements of JS Bach's Sonata in G Minor. Originally for harp and flute,
tonight he was joined on piano, (as were all the singers) , by John Peace
on piano. Sweeney then came back in masterly fashion with On with the
Motley, sung in the original Italian from Leon Cavallo's I Pagliacci.
The interval came after more Boheme magic reflecting on Musetta's change
of heart, ably carried off by Eilin O'Dea. After the dignitaries had departed
first, the half-time chill in the huge entrance hall added the drama,
with the red wine on sale being a bit too cold for some people's liking.
The evening continued apace with the Habanera from Carmen, followed by
some Wagner and Britten, before O'Dea again got a show stopper with Vissi'
d'arte, where Tosca reflects on her love of art and love itself.
Ayebare signed off with Bellini's Vaga Luna (Beautiful Moon) before James
Rae's Gymnopedie Bleu; East Coast Mainline from the saxophonist, two movements
in slow and quick tempo respectively.
There was still time for Agarwal to reminisce over Massenet's 'little
table' from Manon and the two competing males to conjure Marcello! Finalmente!
from La Boheme, before the Sweeney boomed out with Nessun Dorma before
As the dignitaries crowded on the stage for the photo shoot it was left
for lesser mortals to reflect on events. All the performers deserved credit
but perhaps the tenor carried the day.