Review: A special performance with two international stars

British soparono Carly Paoli has been nominated for a classical BRIT award SUS-180406-112119001
British soparono Carly Paoli has been nominated for a classical BRIT award SUS-180406-112119001

Carly Paoli and Oliver Poole

Opus Theatre World Series, Saturday June 9 2018

It is not often we get a singer as internationally feted as soprano Carly Paoli to give a concert in Hastings, and when she is accompanied by a pianist of the stature of Oliver Poole we were obviously in for a very special evening – and so it proved to be. Carly Paoli took us on a whirlwind tour of her musical life, dipping into popular film scores, opera, and comic songs, all in the context of her own settings and lyrics.

What impressed more than anything was the wide range of styles she is able to adopt, and all equally convincing. She opened with a number of operatic arias – Gluck’s Che Faro, Mozart’s Non So Piu and Parto, Parto Ma Tu Ben Mio - before moving to a perfectly modulated reading of Reynaldo Hahn’s Si Mes Vers Avaient Des Ailes and the familiar setting of Ave Maria. Every piece was characterised precisely and the text was immaculately clear – for those of us able to follow, which I suspect was many who were present.

Oliver Poole, who provided tactful and secure accompaniment throughout, was allowed a couple of moments to explore by himself, providing us with an improvised fantasy at this point on the opening of act two of Carmen. It was spellbinding in a way I assume Franz Liszt used to enthral his audiences – the intensity, power and creativity only outdone by the blur of his fingerings.

We returned to opera with Rosina’s Una Voce Poco Fa but we were now in a lighter mood, a fact taken up by a sentimental Neapolitan song made famous by Tito Schipa – and incidentally passed on to Carly via her grandfather – and Mi Mancherai before the first half concluded with Rusalka’s Song To The Moon.

The second half brought us to yet another world and one even closer to her own musical journey.

In 2016 she sang Musumarra and Black’s setting of Ave Maria at the Baths of Caracalla and it became the Vatican’s official song for the Holy Year of Mercy Jubilee Celebrations, and we heard this, her own setting of A Time For Mercy and her own lyrics entitled Memory Of You set to James Horner score to Legends Of The Fall.

Dreams are important to her, as her own first issued cd attests, and the next three songs were given over to them.

Before we could gently drift off, Oliver gave us a rousing – and not to say tongue-in-cheek – fantasy on Happy Birthday dedicated to his father’s birthday that very day.

The closing items were gently sentimental with The Cloths Of Heaven and Danny Boy before a moving Over The Rainbow.

Next Saturday brings us Portuguese pianist Pedro Gomes. Be there! By Brian Hick.