English Touring Opera - Alcina

TONY COOPER > Snape MaltingsJames Conway, artistic director of this flourishing opera company, won so many plaudits for his production of Handel's Ariodante last season that he's back on the composer's trail with another great work.

TONY COOPER

> Snape Maltings

James Conway, artistic director of this flourishing opera company, won so many plaudits for his production of Handel's Ariodante last season that he's back on the composer's trail with another great work.

It's a magical opera about an enchantress who enslaves men who come to her island and Conway brought out that magic and more in a very enjoyable and entertaining production that sported a small but select cast of singers - just six in all.


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And it was girl power from the start, with soprano Amanda Echalaz showing what she was made of in a demanding and thrilling title-role.

Handel's score is a test for any singer and Miss Echalaz rose admirably to the challenge. She was superb throughout and sang with ease and comfort and was completely in control of some fine passages, especially those in the higher register.

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Tamsin Coombs as her sister Morgana and Louise Poole as Ruggiero, her lover, put in fine and commanding performances - an excellent trio working as a team.

But team spirit is at the heart of this company. Everything fits in with their productions like a jigsaw puzzle and their production team is surely one of the best in the business.

Joanna Parker proved once again to be a wonderful and creative set designer. She uses space very economically and her singular set was just the job, with an angular-raised platform set against a classical backdrop with just a few props complemented by some moody lighting by Tina MacHugh.

And Gary Cooper and his band of 16 players in the pit performed on period instruments with detailed accuracy and feeling. They always do!

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