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Cavalleria Rusticana And Trial By Jury. Just Great
Richard Trinder, Editor
Opera North continue their series of Little Greats with a full-blooded tale of Italian passion and a witty yarn that is English to its core.

Jonathan Stoughton as Turridu and Katie Bray as Lola. Photo by Robert Workman
Cavalleria Rusticana

Pietro Mascagni's red-blooded tale of jealousy and revenge is quintessentially Italian - or, at least, quintessentially Italian Opera.

A returning soldier, his passion for a woman and an almost primordial belief in the church are mixed into an explosive cocktail, which leads to an inevitable and bloody revenge.

Laying on top of this feisty drama lies Mascagani's beautifully lyrical melodies: containing a couple of well known, and eminently hummable tunes, the score piles on the passion and the tragedy.

Also by Richard Trinder...
The Little Mermaid
Golfing Teddy And The Frog Prince
Phoenix On Fire
Tubular Bells And Interstellar Travels At The Civic
Osud & Trouble In Tahiti
For some reason the action had been relocated from Sicily to Poland. Despite some similarities between these two countries - Catholicism mainly - I'm not sure what this added to our understanding of the piece. It just made it a little drabber.

As we expect with Opera North, the performance was beautiful. All four of the principal characters (Giselle Allen as Santuzza, Katie Bray as Lola, Phillip Rhodes as the spurned lover Alfio and Jonathan Stroughton as Turiddu, the returning soldier) were splendid.

Katie Bray has a gorgeous rich mezzo-soprano voice, seemingly coming from nowhere as she is not - by some margin - the largest person on stage.

Despite being moved to Poland, Cavalleria rusticana remains for me 'very Italian'. It is deep, dark and despite the fun and frivolity of Trial By Jury to follow, it is the one that will remain with me.


Trail By Jury

What a contrast to Cavalleria rusticana!

Gilbert & Sullivan's hilarious courtroom farce is given room to express itself with wonderfully comic songs, memorable tunes and Opera North's chorus members obviously having a jolly fine old time.

Amy Freston as The Plaintiff and Jeremy Peaker as The Learned Judge. Photo by Robert Workman
When the glamorous Angelina brings a court case against her intended, but terminally bored husband Edwin, the case falls apart when all the members of the jury and even the judge have fallen for Angelina themselves.

Jeremy Peaker was in his element as the most injudicial Judge you hope you will ever meet. Egged on by six delightfully bouncy ladies in pink, a completely partisan Jury and Amy Freston as the manipulative defendant, his honour didn't really stand a chance.

Nicholas Watts as The Defendant with members of the Chorus of Opera North. Photo by Robert Workman
Yes it is a goofy story - of course it is - it's Opera for goodness sake! But it is very funny. And it is a joy to see such wonderful performers hamming-it-up just for the fun of it.


If these two operas really are a comparative study of Italian and English attitudes to life, then we come out of it as rather more infantile, but happier!

Cavalleria Rusticana And Trial By Jury. Just Great, 28th September 2017, 8:04 AM