The Liverpool Opera – Four Seasons featuring Stefan Pop

The Liverpool Opera - Four Seasons featuring Stefan Pop

Stefan Pop: Tenor
Barbara Ruzsics: Soprano
Andreas Z. Magony: Tenor
Kirsty Ligertwood: Piano
St. George’s Hall
25th June 2016

Reviewed by Joe Coventry

On the day after the UK had voted to leave the EU, acclaimed Romanian star Stefan Pop made his debut in Liverpool for a concert of, as the programme described them, tenor hit songs. He was introduced as the new ‘Young Pavarotti’ by the master of ceremonies, but it was not just Pop providing the night’s entertainment. On stage with him were local soprano Barbara Ruzsics and international tenor Andreas Z. Magony.

The evening started with a flourish as Pop set his stall out with ‘Questa o quella'(‘this one or that one’); the Duke of Mantua pondering his next sexual conquest, in Verdi’s opera Rigoletto. Showing great breath control the tenor filled St George’s Hall with the breadth of his voice, body and winning smile, effortlessly hitting the right notes, as he would do later in ‘La donna mobile’ (All women are fickle’), from the same opera.

Exultate, jubilate (Rejoice, resound with joy’) is a religious showstopper these days for soprano but was originally written by Mozart for the castrato voice. It was a prodigious test of register for Ruzsics but she carried the highs and lows of the libretto well enough, although the piano struggled at times to match the emotional intensity of the voice. Ligertwood did however come into her own with a sensitive solo rendering of Debussy’s Claire de lune while the vocalists regrouped back stage.

The evening’s other tenor Mahony, while not of the stature of Pop, showed his prowess in ‘Musica proibita'(‘Forbidden Music’), a lyrical Italian salon song. There would be a lot more of summer red wine music as the concert progressed, ‘Come back to Sorrento’ being typical of the Neopolitan musical landscape and also sung by Magony.

It was though the headliner who took the occasion to its breathless conclusion. From Puccini’s Rudolpho aria in La Boheme, ‘Your tiny hand is frozen’ to Augustin Lara’s ‘Granada’, his voice and personality held the audience in thrall.

More though beckoned as the finale approached. The two tenors stormed home with encores of ‘O sole mio’ and ‘Nessun Dorma’ and the diva was not left out in a the final trio. Earlier she had performed with Pop in Alfredo and Violetta’s duet from Verdi’s La Traviata.

With so many showstoppers, in no time the evening was over. At the end the audience showed its appreciation with a standing ovation as the bouquets were handed out. The overriding verdict of the crowd was definitely come back soon.

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