beautifully paced and elegant… impressive cast

Opera Now, October 2011

You wonder how long Bampton’s guiding spirits Gilly French and Jeremy Gray can keep unearthing 18th-century works with enough zip to earn a staging.  It’s a great cause, anyway, and to date they have excavated plenty of gems, including Storace’s Comedy of Errors, Soler’s Capricciosa corretta and Portugal’s Figaro, pieces which can hold their own in any company.

I’m not sure that Cimarosa’s Italian Girl in London is up to that, or even that of their previous foray into his work, The Two Barons of Rocca Azzurra; nonetheless it is a perfectly likeable bit of Neapolitan flummery though each half is about ten minutes too long even for the tolerant and easily-amused. The premise, if any, is that the eponymous girl is masquerading as a French maid in a London hotel patronized by her ex (an English Lord), a Dutch salesman and an Italian idiot.  All have their eye on the girl, but the proprietress fancies the Italian.  A magic stone which makes you invisible is also notionally involved.

Good things here started with the orchestra, playing to a really high standard under Thomas Blunt’s cultured direction, beautifully paced and elegant.  And as usual Bampton had assembled an impressive cast, led by the always disciplined and assiduous Kim Sheehan as Livia.  Adam Tunnicliffe sang the Dutchman stylishly, but the piece was stolen by the twin comic talents of Nicholas Merryweather as the absurd Polidoro and, most of all, by Caryl Hughes’s Madama Brillante: this young Welsh mezzo sang a stunning Cenerentola at Iford last year, and here added effortless comic assurance to her portfolio, singing with focus and great technique.

Robert Thicknesse