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Press Reviews and Audience Comments

Read what the local press have had to say about our most recent presentations. Then come along and see for yourself at our next production

Christopher Morley reviewed Midland Opera's valuable contribution to Birmingham music just before our 2016 production of Cav and Pag..

Currently celebrating its 70th birthday, Midland Opera is about to present a much-loved double-bill, Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. Wherever they’re based, the members of Midland Opera exude huge enthusiasm for the work they do. After a difficult period in the early 2000s the Society has reinvented itself triumphantly, and continues to attract young, talented and enthusiastic performers. Much young blood comes from Birmingham Conservatoire. Several of the principals in Midland Opera’s forthcoming production are either current students or alumni of the institution, not least Sarah Helsby-Hughes.

Richard Bratby reviewed the production in the Birmingham Post..

Midland Opera’s latest production takes Cav and Pag and relocates them to the world of Guys and Dolls. And it works, director Sarah Helsby Hughes fills the stage with a colourful, skilfully-marshalled parade of Little Italy streetlife: wiseguys, nuns, pizza chefs and kindly neighbourhood cops. It’s no mean feat to get an amateur chorus to enter into character this vividly. And at the centre of these two hot-blooded tales of jealousy and murder, Midlands Opera fields two highly capable casts. In Cavalleria Rusticana, Helsby Hughes herself plays a touchingly vulnerable Santuzza, against Edward Harrisson’s cocksure, bullish Turiddu. In I Pagliacci right from the start, Michael Lam (Tonio)’s ringing, black-voiced Prologue, really did pull you into the drama, with Lam plus Richard Owen (as Canio) and the bright, bell-like soprano of Claudia Wood (Nedda) delivering some of the most compelling singing of the night. In a city that sees as little opera as Birmingham, Midland Opera has a vital role to play.

The Audience was enthralled by our 2015 production of La Boheme at Tudor Grange Academy..

"The triumph of the evening was the singing. The soloists and the chorus did an amazing job."
“A nurse told me she and her partner were both crying at the death scene - actually lots of people were, the acting was as powerful as the singing.”

Christopher Morley enthusiastically reviewed our 2015 production of 'The Thieving Magpie'..

'Midland Opera bring the world's important operas right into the heart of Birmingham, The Thieving Magpie had some wonderful moments of musical delivery when soloists took flight.
As Ninetta, the falsely-accused servant-girl, Abigail Kelly was simply brilliant. Robert Tilson was her attractive fiance Gianetto, Devon Harrison was engaging as his father, and Wendy Silvester placed her notes well as his mother, Lucia. Roger Hanke scored a comedic triumph in dual roles as pedlar and prison warder, with the MO chorus projecting singing of great linear and harmonic clarity. And the wonderful kleptomaniac magpie, deftly manipulated by Deborah Johnson, did a tremendous ventriloquist's job, croaking and growling away.
And from the audience...'I enjoyed it so much last night, I've come again tonight!'

Christopher Morley said of our production in his 'Classical Highlights of 2014'..

'a heartening Magic Flute from Midland Opera, with Sara Whichelow as a formidable Queen of the Night, and Lorraine Payne a touching, well-phrased Pamina.'

2010 Tales of Hoffmann - Maggie Cotton writing in the Birmingham Post

'A colourful opening and imaginative lighting ... Lorraine Payne's splendid vocal acrobatics ... a tour-de-force from Roger Hanke matched by a beautiful Sophie Levi as the dying heroine ... praise to everyone for a distinctive evening'
Audiences were equally impressed... 'enjoyed the show and the wonderful voices and imaginative stage settings' ... 'so good I want to see it again!' ... 'a match for anything I've seen at the Hippodrome or the Rep' ... 'I was spellbound' ... 'the chorus were particularly good, well done!'

2009 Macbeth - Christopher Morley writing in the Birmingham Post

'4 out of 5 stars! Midland Opera's production of Verdi’s Macbeth has much to commend it: lively chorus work, some excellent solo performances, and a crisp delivery from the Queen’s Park Sinfonia of the score in Eric Wetherell’s adroit reduction'
'...fine solo performances, beginning with John Kiefert as a sturdy, sonorous Macbeth...three wives alongside him: Sophie Levi charming and promising, Lorraine Payne stylish and imperious, and Kym Sheargold with an efficiently-delivered Sleepwalking Scene...a great find was the Lady-in-Waiting of Jacqueline White. Look out for her'

On the 2009 Verdi Concert in Stourbridge; Russell Eden of 102.5 The 'Bridge', remarked...

'Wow!! The hairs on the back of my neck are still standing up. Fantastic!'

2008 Carmen - Christopher Morley writing in the Birmingham Post

'Many congratulations to Midland Opera ... one of the region's great amateur companies.'
'Carmen is refreshingly staged by a talented young directorial team, and graced with a chorus full of vigour and character.'

'... brilliantly effective stage-setting ... orchestra delivers Bizet's score magnificently ... Phil Ypres-Smith conducts with loving enthusiasm ...'
'... Rachel Skinner gives a vocally appealing portrayal of Michaela ... Don Jose and Escamillo efficiently sung by Mark Ellse and John Kiefert ... tremendous performance and characterisation of Carmen from Lorraine Payne ...'

2007 Masked Ball - Paul Marsden writing in the Birmingham Evening Mail

'How nice to hear a Verdi opera sung in English, and how good to see it performed in the style delivered by the hugely talented Midland Opera Company.'
'... the costumes are impressive ... the dramatic masked ball scene is beautifully staged ... a gripping opera'

'...John Kiefert gives a magnificent performance as Count Renato ... tenor Mark Ellse is an excellent King Riccardo ... outstanding performances from Kym Sheargold (Amelia) and Lorraine Payne (Oscar) ...'

- and Christopher Morley also wrote in the Birmingham Post

'... great things are achieved with the chorus ... the pragmatic sets become a star in the final act ...'
'... men's roles sung with commitment and strong delivery ... Clive Thursfield (Samuel) gives a strong portrayal, with Sheila Giles a vivid Ulrica ... colourful score crisply conveyed by the Queen's Park Sinfonia ...'

Midland Opera (then known as Midland Music Makers) featured in a Birmingam Post article earlier in 2007 reviewing opera in the region.

'Midland Music Makers, a company with a proud history of producing grand opera in Birmingham, has reinvented itself with gusto. New members are joining from across the region. A young directorial team has much to do with this renaissance and credit is due to Stoford Limited which as main sponsor is helping the company to plan for the future. A huge fillip is a new association with Queen's Park Sinfonia who receive consistently favourable reviews for their concerts and will provide a vibrant canvas on which the singers can deliver.'
Come along and see one of our next productions or take the opportunity to be part of our exciting future ?!

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Midland Opera
Registered Charity:
257694
Registered Name:
Midland Music Makers
13 of our Previous Productions – Click on an icon to download the appropriate programme pdf.
2015 The Thieving Magpie 2014 The Magic Flute 2013 The Elixir of Love
2012 Turandot 2011 Jack Faust & Sister Angelica 2010 Tales_of_Hoffmann
2009 Macbeth 2008 Carmen 2007 A Masked Ball
2006 Cavalleria Rusticana & I Pagliacci 2005 Eugene Onegin 2004 La Clemenza di Tito
2003 The Medium
...For a full list back to 1946 see the How it all began page.
info@midlandopera.com
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