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KZNPO CONCERT: OCTOBER 18 2007 (article first published : 2007-10-21)

Operatic music has always attracted good audiences at classical concerts, and so it was on this occasion, when wet, cool weather did not prevent the enthusiasts from giving a warm reception to the soprano Angela Gilbert and the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra, appearing in the Durban City Hall under the baton of Victor Yampolsky.

Angela Gilbert was born in Cape Town and is a graduate of the College of Music at that cityís university. She has for several years lived in the United States, where she has established a big reputation in opera, performing a wide range of roles. It is easy to understand why. She is one of our countryís prime musical exports, presenting a beautiful and well-trained voice with a winning personality --- she smiles a lot --- and a highly intelligent insight into the music she is singing.

Her programme at this KZNPO concert covered familiar ground ---Verdi, Donizetti, Charpentier, Bellini. Her singing was consistently fine, but if I had to nominate the finest item I think I would go for Depuis le jour from Charpentierís Louise, the soft high notes sung with exquisite accuracy and control. Caro Nome from Verdiís Rigoletto was another example of lovely phrasing and tonal quality.

The singer showed her versatility in more dramatic interludes from Donizettiís Lucia di Lammermoor and Belliniís La Sonnambula. In the former she was joined, in a supporting role, by Sibongile Magwaza, a very good mezzo-soprano who is a third-year music student at the University of KZN.

Under Victor Yampolskyís careful guidance, the orchestra was a sympathetic partner to the singers, and added several other items which contributed to the general success of the concert. We had the not too often played overture to Verdiís I Vespri Siciliani, the same composerís translucent prelude to the first act of Traviata, some Puccini and the standard Rossini overture with the standard Rossini crescendo, in this case The Thieving Magpie.

It was all very much to the taste of a bigger than usual audience. - Michael Green




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