Thursday, November 26, 2009

"The Magic of Operetta" - Louise Page, Phillipa Candy - Street Theatre - 15.11.09

Former "Artist of the Year", Louise Page, launched a new CD of songs from operetta, with a well-attended concert in the Street Theatre.
More an elegant, superbly constructed, cabaret than a recital, "The Magic of Operetta" allowed Louise to demonstrate her unrivalled mastery of the genre, and the show ranged through a delightful selection of carefully chosen operetta classics, including beautifully sung selections from "The Dancing Years" (Ivor Novello), "Land of Smiles" (Franz Lehar), "Rose Marie" (Rudolph Friml), "Rio Rita" (Robert Stolz) and "Countess Maritza (Emmerich Stolz). Each selection was preceded by a short, spoken quote, which set the tone for what was to follow.

Louises' gift, apart from her beautifully trained voice and flawless diction, is her ability to inhabit each song, illuminate the subtext, and reveal the composer's intention.  Whether the song is a sighing waltz, ("Love Unspoken" from Lehar's "The Merry Widow"), a wistful paen to unrequitted love (I'll Follow My Secret Heart" from Noel Cowards "Conversation Piece") or even a saucy attempt at seduction ("My Burning Kisses" from Franz Lehar's "Giuditta" ), Louise was able to slip gracefully and effortlessly into the mood of each song allowing it to become a small opera of its own.

Particular highlights for me was the heavily romantic "In a Private Room" from Richard Heubergers' "Der Opernball" and the wonderfully funny  "The Tipsy Waltz" from Jacques Offenbach's "La Perichole", in which Louise demonstrated her hitherto unexposed ..flair for comedy. But then every song for me was a highlight, and of course each was impeccably accompanied by Phillipa Candy.

Tasteful lighting and just the occasional prop added visual variety to a concert which will be long savoured by those present. Thankfully it is all preserved on a CD of the same name. Look out for it.

Bill Stephens