Pure Puccini, Hunstanton

This programme was made up of excerpts both familiar and less so from the operas of that master songsmith Puccini.

There are those who do not claim to be opera lovers and yet enjoy items taken out of context. Saturday's programme at the Princess Theatre catered for these people, being made up of excerpts both familiar and less so from the operas of that master songsmith Puccini.

The two tenors were 11th-hour substitutes due to illness but no allowances had to be made, such was the quality of their singing. One of these, Mark Luther, joined soprano Diana Vivian in the love duet from Madam Butterfly. Unfortunately her voice was not suited to the role of the child bride and a disturbing throb marred her singing in Un Bel Di (One Fine Day).

The rich, dark baritone Michael Dewis was most impressive in Nulla Silenzia from Il Tabbiro as he was in the role of Scarpia from Tosca.

Baritone Mark Evans gave a witty and sometimes saucy précis of the plot of La Bohème in which he sang Marcello. In this Naomi Harvey was a moving Mimi, her bell-like voice blending beautifully with the Italianate voice of the second tenor Eugene – no second name was given – in the

love duet.

In Act Two we were given a selection of lesser-known items plus large excerpts from Tosca and in conclusion two items from Turandot including Puccini's most demanding soprano aria – one that many international singers will not attempt, In Questa Reggia, which is set cruelly high and yet was carried off superbly by Diana Vivian.

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The closing item was, of course, Nessun Dorma in which the whole company joined, receiving a standing ovation from the audience.

One person above all deserves a mention, pianist Jennifer Trew. Her solo contributions, the overture to Madam Butterfly and the intermezzo from Manon Lescaut were sheer delights as she drew from the piano the melodic harmonies of Puccini's orchestral scores, whilst her accompaniment throughout were sensitive and never obtrusive.

A wonderful evening.

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