I Gioielli della Madonna at Opera Holland Park
Opera Holland Park’s production of Ermanno Wollf-Ferrari’s hedonistic tale of unrequited love, I Gioielli della Madonna, is the penultimate show of their 2013 season. The performance is composed by Peter Robinson and directed by Martin Lloyd-Evans, and sung in Italian with English subtitles. Performed in three acts, the original text by Carlo Zangarni and Enrico Goliscani is based on the news accounts of a real event.
This opera deals with love, fetishism and religion as its main themes, however, of its three acts, the first seems somewhat tame in comparison to the second and third. The opera really comes into its own after the interval, as the ever brilliant City of London Sinfonia play an extended, sorrowful piece to an empty stage, rousing emotion in the audience and signifying a change in the story. It is the Sinfonia that really creates fear in the audience with piercing sounds from the string section, even competing with the raging storm outside, which, as if planned, added to the atmosphere. Aptly, the orchestra received the biggest round of applause.
The set, designed by Jamie Vartan, helps to transport the audience to a poor back street in Naples complete with graffiti and wire fences. The same pieces of grey/brown board impressively transform the stage from the street, to a house and into a bar.
As the troubled Gennaro, Joel Montero’s voice struggled to carry through the rain in the first act, however his acting was full of real passion and emotion. Natalya Romaniw’s Maliella is a rebellious and selfish-natured young woman struggling to find love and be free from her oppressive family – her performance and voice were truly captivating. The shallow gangster Rafaele, played by Olafur Sigurdarson, was as frightening and intimidating as was expected, he delivered a very strong performance. The other main character was more subtle in her performance: Carmela was played by Diana Montague perfectly, portraying the pain of a mother at the point of utter exhaustion.
The temporary theatre is right in the heart of the beautiful park. It is an amazing setting to spend a summers evening. The chairs are very comfortable and it is well equipped with two bars. This is a great atmospheric opera in gorgeous surroundings.
I Gioielli della Madonna is at Opera Holland Park until 3rd August 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.