Saturday, June 16, 2018


Conducted by Simon Kenway
Ayako Ohtake, Soprano
Caleb Son, Tenor
Laura Scandizzo, Soprano
Christopher Curcuruto, Bass-baritone
Livia Brash, Soprano
Pacific Opera Ensemble
Airena Nakamura, Solo Violinist
Llewellyn Hall 9 June

Reviewed by Len Power

Presenting a memorable evening of fine music and song, the Canberra Symphony Orchestra Opera Gala showcased five young soloists and the ensemble of Pacific Opera, conducted by their artistic director, Simon Kenway.

Pacific Opera supports young singers through a program of education comprising artistic training, performance opportunities, and professional skills development. Through this work, Pacific Opera cultivates the next generation of Australian talent.

The concert, titled ‘Love and Lust’ included romantic arias by Verdi, Puccini, Massenet, Delibes, Cilea and both Johann and Richard Strauss.  The soloists all displayed impressive voices and technique as well as thoughtful and believable presentation.
Ayako Ohtake

Ayako Ohtake’s beautifully clear soprano voice was particularly impressive with ‘Caro nome’ from Verdi’s ‘Rigoletto’.

Caleb Son
Tenor, Caleb Son, gave a heart-felt and nicely controlled performance of Puccini’s ‘E lucevan le stelle’ from ‘Tosca’.

Laura Scandizzo

Soprano, Laura Scandizzo, thrilled the audience with her soaring, dramatic performance of ‘Es gibt ein Reich’ from ‘Ariadne auf Naxos’ by Richard Strauss.

Christopher Curcuruto

Banquo’s aria from Verdi’s Macbeth, ‘Come da ciel precipita’, was a fine showcase for Christopher Curcuruto’s rich and pleasing bass-baritone and acting ability.

Livia Brash
With her lovely soprano voice, Livia Brash, sang ‘Una voce poco’ from Rossini’s ‘Il Barbiere di Siviglia’ with confidence and a great sense of fun.

The Canberra Symphony Orchestra under the baton of conductor, Simon Kenway, accompanied the singers extremely well.  They opened the concert with an exquisite performance of Verdi’s ‘Prelude Act One’ from ‘La Traviata’ and gave a notably exciting and dramatic performance of ‘Polonaise’ from Tchaikovsky’s ‘Eugene Onegin’ at the start of the second half.

Solo violinist, Airena Nakamura, gave a beautiful and moving performance of ‘Meditation’ from Massenet’s ‘Thais’.

The Pacific Opera’s Ensemble of singers displayed their fine voices in their accompaniment to several of the arias and particularly in Johann Strauss’s ‘Champagne Trio’ from ‘Die Fledermaus’ and ‘Brindisi’ from Verdi’s ‘La Traviata’ that brought this delightful concert to a close.

This review was first published in the Canberra City News digital edition of 10 June.

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on his ‘On Stage’ performing arts radio program on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3.30pm on Artsound FM 92.7.