Opera Alba open season with a bang

WHAT a welcome start to Newton Stewart and District Music Club’s new season.

Their first programme opened on Sunday at Newton Stewart Cinema with a wonderfully refreshing evening of operatic highlights in a performance by Opera Alba.

Opera Alba, the quartet of Jenny Wilson Best and Daisy Henderson as sopranos, Adam Magee as tenor and Steven Faughey as baritone accompanied superbly by Derek Clark on the piano, aim to bring opera to the people of Scotland and beyond and they certainly gave us a tantalising taste of the variety of music in this genre.

The programme opened with the lively Brindisi from Verdi’s La Traviata, followed by selections from Tchaikovsky, Puccini, Gershwin and Mozart including the charming letter duet and a witty account of Man and Wife from the Magic Flute.

Lovely Women, from Don Giovanni, sung by Steven Faughey with beautifully understated humour also gave us an opportunity to hear pianist Derek Ckark’s virtuosity. This versatile ensemble took us through every range of emotion in the varied content of the programme, with amusing and engaging commentaries linking each number.

After the interval the quartet sang the folk song Scarborough Fair in a haunting arrangement by Derek. The second half continued in a relaxed mood with excerpts from lighter and more recent works. There was some audience participation in O sole Mio when Adam Magee invited the audience to join in with the world of a certain well-known ice cream advert. Daisy Henderson sang an unforgettable A Word on my Ear by Flanders and Swann. There were many highlights, including a moving performance of Bring Him Home, from Les Miserables and a memorable To keep My Love Alive from jenny Wilson best.

A combination of solos, duets and the beautifully blended voices of the full ensemble ensured a thoroughly entertaining evening - with even a little dance routine to the Merry Widow Waltz.

An appreciative audience was delighted by Opera Alba’s encore: Gershwin’s Embraceable You, and I Got Rhythm, and went home very satisfied, many of them humming their favourite tunes.

by Christine Job