Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Culture Night 2021 Duo Frizzante at the Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens

 A Garden Serenade.  Cathy Desmond / Marian Ingoldsby

Culture Night offered the impetus to get down to some serious practice and take to a platform to perform live. This year it seemed best to embrace the outdoors as al fresco events seemed to pose less problems. I was delighted to have an invitation from Waterford Libraries to perform in Tramore. The Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens made their entrance space available for an afternoon serenade. The weather was still warm but the forecast was for rain and I was not optimistic that we would  perform but miraculously after a morning of rain, the skies cleared and the sun even made an appearance. The Japanese Garden team have a smashing gazebo that provided cover for the 60 or so people who came along to the soirée.  

With my collaborator, Marian Ingoldsby, I enjoyed devising an hour long  programme of words and music that would resonate with the natural beauty of our performance location and explore some connections with Lafcadio Hearn. It was a thrill to hear the birds singing in the back ground. I was reminded of Beatrice Harrison's duet with a nightingale in her garden captured in a 1920's BBC recording.  I transposed some of my usual violin repertoire for viola to get a bit of extra heft for the outdoor acoustic. All went well apart from a little hiccup when winds ruffled the pages of our finale. I was delighted to feature in the Liam Murphy's reviews of the day's events in the Munster Express published 28th September. 

An extract from Liam Murphy's column here.


are a two-piece of Marion Ingoldsby (keyboards) and Cathy Desmond (viola), and they provided a delightful and well-devised programme specifically for the garden setting, and the audience loved the vibe and at times hummed along.
Opening with 'Dear Thought Are In My Mind' and a sense of autumnal enchantment 'Down By The Sally Gardens' underlining the beautiful surroundings. the medley of Moore's Melodies was special with 'The Last Rose Of Summer', 'The Minstrel Boy' and 'Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms'.
The sun shone, small planes droned overhead, and there was the buzz of traffic, and the G&S tune 'Tit Willow' (The Mikado) eased into a familiar Elgar 'Salut D'amour'. Highlights of the recital were 'Trees'; Raindrops Prelude' and 'Autumn Leaves'. The late and much-missed Eric Sweeney was remembered with his 'The Cherry Blossom' composed to a Mark Roper haiku.
The Ketelbey 'In A monastery Garden' was a nostalgic finale to a wonderful and" restorative recital.

Members of Waterford Libraries and LH Garden teams with Cathy and Marian

Set List: The Lark in the Clear Air/ The Sally Gardens

Set 2 Moores Melodies 1- 4 last Rose The Minstrel Boy- Believe Me of All Those Endearing Young Charms Oft in The Stilly Night 

Set 3 Tit Willow from the Mikado GS Gilbert   /Salut D'Amour Elgar
Set 4 Haiku Eric Sweeney Cherry Blossom Cherry Ripe  Cyril Scott
Set 5 Chopjn Raindrop Prelude piano solo  Trees Joyce Kilmer/ Oscar Rasbach   Autumn Leaves 
Set 6 Latin Quarter , Albeniz Tango La Paloma / La Cucuracha

Finale Monastery Garden Albert Ketelbey

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

La Boheme Live streamed from BGET Review


Review La Boheme Live from BGET

Sometimes less is more. A concert performance of Puccini’s tear-jerker proved to be perfect solace for yet another lockdown Saturday night. Over a year when the archives of the world’s great opera houses were thrown open, you could view the most lavish of productions. Nevertheless, hearing the sound of a live orchestra tuning up for a streamed performance at the BGE Theatre in Dublin’s Grand Canal Dock produced a feeling of happy anticipation and high emotion every bit as strong as the most extravagant Wagnerian moment.

The love story between Rudolfo and Mimi may be the main attraction of La Boheme but it is the rapport between the four male leads that play the house-sharing friends that gives the work its cheerful heart and soul. Irish National Opera presented two new international voices to Irish audiences. Lithuanian tenor Merūnas Vitulskis and Serbian baritione, David Bizic were impressive as Rudolfo and Marcello. They were joined by Irish singers Ben McAteer as Schaunard and John Molloy as Colline. Despite the limitations of the concert format, the quartet gave remarkably credible characterisation and exuded a spirited bonhomie and empathy.

Celine Byrne was splendid as Mimi managing to convey a sense of fragilty while giving full heft to her arias. Anna Devin was delightfully bright and breezy as Musetta.

There was no stinting on the elements that traditionally flesh out this opera. A childrens’ chorus sang from the balcony. A bijou military band occupied the boxes and a 25 strong chorus sang from the stalls. Less dramatic action on stage added an intensity to the colourful score, a feature amplified by having the 60piece orchestra arrayed onstage behind the soloists. That the orchestra looked and sounded marvellous was a testament not only to the Spanish conductor Sergio Alapont but to the sound, lighting and camera crew.

An audio recording of the production will be released later. The production will be available to view online until Friday 19th March

Note: In the online programme notes, newspaper reviews from the Irish premiere in 1897 made for interesting reading. The Freeman’s Journal reported that there was standing room only in the Gaiety at the Irish premiere by the Carla Rosa Opera Co. The Independent reviewer’s tone was cooler, reporting that ‘it were a hard task to conceive a colder welcome for a new work’ describing the audience as ‘cruelly impassive’. Ouch!