Il Vologeso Reviews

As part of MOZART 250, Classical Opera presented the UK premiére of Niccolò Jommelli’s Il Vologeso, first performed 250 years ago for the Stuttgart court in Ludwigsburg. Read selections from the press reviews below.

The next concert in our MOZART 250 series is ‘La Canterina’ at Wigmore Hall in September 2016.

****

“Ian Page’s Classical Orchestra kicked off with bracing rhythmic vitality from the start, and sounded super-bright in Cadogan acoustics so ideal for their forces. Then three of the main singers quickly showed their total classiness – the others were not to disappoint – with vivid continuo support led by the best in the business, Christopher Bucknall…

“All praise to Page, then, for knowing exactly the right voices to cast: this is the second time this season, Rossi’s Orpheus at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse being the first, that I’ve reeled at the young talent coming straight out of our music colleges…

“Every aspect of this totally pleasurable evening, a bracing halfway house between Handel and Mozart, confirmed that everything Classical Opera puts on will be worth seeking out. Microphones suggested a recording in the offing; if so, I’d snap it up straight away.”

David Nice, The Arts Desk
Read the full review here.

 

****

“With expressive and well-focused singing from the sopranos Summerfield and France, the mezzos Kelly and Simkin, the tenor Jackson and the countertenor Tom Verney as Aniceto, this was an impressive modern premiere. Page kept the tempos crisp, ensuring tremendous variety of articulation and atmosphere in Act III, with flinty bowing and smoky woodwind. Il Vologeso emerges as a vital link between the baroque and the classical, between Naples and Venice, and Stuttgart and Ludwigsberg, with characterisation of unusual sophistication and emotional volatility.”

Anna Picard, The Times

 

“Page and the Classical Opera ensemble take what’s native and contemporary about their 18th-century repertoire, and hand it fully and proudly back to the audience. In other words, they prove that respect for the old can illuminate why this music is inspiring, both for Mozart and for 21st-century audiences…

Il Vologeso is a great opera. It’s full of love and lust, neglected and abused women, political differences, pride, and just endings. Under Ian Page, the Orchestra of Classical Opera started with a burst of energy that stayed present throughout the night; no two phrases were alike, and the orchestra were main players in the drama alongside the singers…

“As Lucio Vero, tenor Stuart Jackson sang with menacing fire in his sound, balanced by moments of beauty and agility, like in his cavatina, “Che faro?” Jackson delivered a wicked rage aria, and some blinding coloratura…

“It was our first hearing of Classical Opera’s work, and they were a total breath of fresh air. There was no ego in their mission, and the artists performed with respect for each other and for the audience’s experience.”

Jenna Douglas, Schmopera
Read the full review here.

 

“There was scarcely any weakness on the part of the singers, who achieved a marvellous variety of musical and dramatic realisations of their roles – Summerfield’s agile handling of the tricky coloratura was a wonder to hear. Angela Simkin sang Lucilla with charming demureness which elicited compassion for her situation as the intended bride whom Vero spurns…

“Far from a mere musicological exercise in exposing an example from the little-known world of 18th-century opera between the High Baroque and the great achievements of Mozart and Da Ponte, this was an enjoyable and welcome opportunity to discover the work of a not negligible composer from that period.

Curtis Rogers, Classical Source
Read the full review here.

 

****

“This performance by Classical Opera, directed by Ian Page, was the first ever of the work in the UK and we can certainly hope it will not be the last…

“In the title role Rachel Kelly was superb, with her mezzo-soprano being full and lush, and her phrases being rounded off to perfection. For much of the time Stuart Jackson as Vero brought a sense of ease and lightness to his expansive tenor, before bringing arias to shattering climaxes by opening his voice out to the full. As Berenice, Gemma Summerfield’s soprano was rich, rounded and sumptuous, as was Angela Simkin’s mezzo-soprano as Lucilla, though this was also possessed of a more forthright edge. Jennifer France was mesmerising as Flavio, excelling in the complex aria “Crede sol che a nuovi ardori”, while Tom Verney brought his pleasing countertenor to the fore in the role of Vero’s attendant, Aniceto.”

Sam Smith, Music OMH
Read the full review here.

 

“Ian Page and his Classical Opera Company excel in finding and nurturing talented young singers, and the talented cast on show this evening was no exception. I particularly liked Rachel Kelly in the role of Vologeso (pictured), her focussed and clear mezzo voice combining with clean runs, excellent use of ornaments, and some fine acting skills in her interpretation of the role and the relationship with the other protagonists…

“Stuart Jackson also excelled as Lucio Vero, contrasting the varying moods and characterisations of the disturbed general well with his imposing voice and imposing presence…

“Ian Page is one of my favourite conductors. Clearly devoted to the detailed interpretation of the music, rather than trying to attract personal attention or notice, he works well with the singers and players, rather than directing them. There was a lot of work for the two oboists, James Eastaway and Leo Duarte, and the continuo group of Luise Buchberger and Timothy Amherst on cello and bass, and Christopher Bucknall playing harpsichord.”

Andrew Benson-Wilson, Early Music Review
Read the full review here.

 

“Classical Opera’s Mozart 250 series, designed to discover lesser-known composers of Mozart’s time, has unearthed buried treasure in Niccolo Jommelli’s Il Vologeso…
“Classical Opera gathered a splendid cast of rising young singers for the occasion. Mezzo Rachel Kelly, recent graduate of the Royal Opera’s Young Artist Programme, was in vibrant voice in the title role. Gemma Summerfield, winner of the 2015 Kathleen Ferrier Awards, captured Berenice’s regal scorn as she confronts the Emperor, sung by clarion-toned tenor Stuart Jackson.”

Clare Colvin, Sunday Express
Read the full review here.

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