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Amanda Faulkner as Britannia in Last Night of the Proms.
Both performances of Last Night of the Proms, staged at Waiapu Cathedral by the Napier Civic Choir and Hawke’s Bay orchestras, were filled almost to capacity the weekend before last.
The very young through to the no-so-young were attracted to the spirit of this musical celebration that has become a British tradition at the Royal Albert Hall since 1895.
Each half opened with a rousing orchestral overture from lesser-known operas, the first Otto Nicolai’s The Merry Wives of Windsor and the second Rossini’s The Thieving Magpie, showcasing the dramatic power and colour of the full orchestra.
Italian opera composers featured strongly in the programme, which provided a platform to demonstrate how far Project Prima Volta graduates Samuel McKeever and Katherine Winitana have come since pursuing music studies in Wellington and Waikato respectively.
McKeever’s rich bass-baritone voice and piercing eyes perfectly suited the threatening tones of Verdi’s character Renato (who murders King Gustavo) and Puccini’s villain Scarpia from the opera Tosca.
Winitana’s dramatic soprano voice glided effortlessly through Charpentier’s gentle aria declaring her love in the opera Louise. She then brought a powerful passion to her character’s famous aria from Act I of Puccini’s, The Swallow.
Together the two combined dramatically in a duet from Verdi’s Il Trovatore. Surely these young singers have fine futures to look forward to.
Conductor José Aparicio added a Hispanic spin to the afternoon’s proceedings by referring to Magellan’s exploration of the Pacific Ocean. However, the afternoon ended in suitably British flavour with the popular Proms sing-along classics Rule Britannia, Land of Hope & Glory, Jerusalem and God Save the Queen.
A sterling performance from all, this was a show that the audience, the choir and orchestra revelled in and enjoyed thoroughly.
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