first class cast

The Wiltshire and Gloucestershire Echo, August 2008

The open-air setting is delightful with the Orangery and the fine school building forming a backcloth on two sides.  We began in a diluted sunshine and ended wearing our winter anoraks with rugs round our legs!  All typical of an English summer, except for the absence of rain!
This opera company specialises in lesser-known operas from the 18th century and on this occasion two short operas by Gluck and Mozart were performed on the small stage. Gluck's Le Cinesi (The Chinese Ladies) provides the opportunity for four singers to sing solos .To alleviate boredom each enacts a simple scene for the amusement of the others.  We in the audience were similarly amused but in particular were impressed by the fresh young voices, each displaying great flexibility and a pleasing tone as well as good acting ability.  I should mention the fiendishly difficult aria that Tom Raskin sang with aplomb.
It seems unbelievable that Mozart at the tender age of 11 years could have composed Apollo and Hyacinth on his own and I suspect that his talented father, Leopold, had a hand in it!  We hear the story of Apollo and Hyacinth and the jealous south wind Zephyr who blows Apollo's discus so that it kills Hyacinth.  Even if his father helped, the young Mozart 's music shows much poise and beauty for his tender years. Some of the arias may be rather static but others have original ideas. There is a lovely moment with a serene passage for strings and horns as Hyacinth dies and flowers grow from his grave.  Without exception the young singers were in fine voice with excellent diction.  All the cast needed to be versatile coloratura singers as the young composer provided many technical challenges for them. Perhaps I should highlight for special mention the superb voice of Martene Grimson who was quite outstanding in a first class cast that included Lina Markeby and Bampton regular Serena Kay.
The Bampton Classical Players on period instruments under conductor Christian Curnyn were a delight to listen to and accompanied faultlessly.

Donald Hollins