wed 22/11/2017

Fiddler on the Roof, Grange Park Opera | reviews, news & interviews

Fiddler on the Roof, Grange Park Opera

Fiddler on the Roof, Grange Park Opera

Bryn Terfel is superb in this not-quite-operatic production of the classic musical

Bryn Terfel: sheer vocal musclePhoto: Robert Workman

Many matches are made in Fiddler on the Roof but the matchmaking prize goes to Grange Park Opera for getting Bryn Terfel to take on the role of Tevye. Having only recently played Sweeney Todd, and indeed throughout a varied career, Terfel has proved that he can treat lighter music with respect and sincerity, not to mention plenty of good humour. He is superb as the beleaguered paterfamilias, intoning aphorisms at his family, god and anyone who’ll listen with more than a nod towards the cinematic Tevye which made a household name of Chaim Topol – who was actually in the audience on opening night.

With Terfel in the bag, Grange Park had a choice – should the rest of the cast be opera singers as well, trusted to tone it down a little and do a bit of an accent? As it happens, no: though the chorus is operatic (the same group will be on for Eugene Onegin later in the summer), the named parts are taken by musical theatre singers or actors who can sing. And talking of accents: they can’t seem to agree on one. It's refreshing, however, that they sing unamplified (no West End headaches) and Terfel is sensitive enough a singer to rein in his mighty instrument when needed. In fact the Act Two duet "Do You Love Me?", with Janet Fullerlove as Golde, is somehow more moving for the fact that Terfel/Tevye chooses to let her be heard. It works.

On the other hand, the sheer vocal muscle of the opening number "Tradition" (mainly Terfel and chorus) perhaps creates an expectation which isn’t lived up to. On the other hand, as Tevye would say, it is a committed and enjoyable cast, with Charlotte Harwood, Katie Hall and Molly Lynch as the older daughters, Anthony Flaum and Jordan Pollard as the main love interests, Rebecca Wheatley as the matchmaker Yente and Cameron Blakely as Lazar Wolf.Bryn Terfel and company in Grange Park's Fiddler on the Roof. Photo: Robert WorkmanThe production itself is faithful to the atmosphere of the film, and director/designer Antony McDonald does wonders with fairly basic staging to create all the different indoor and outdoor spaces with speedy scene changes. He is well served by Gabrielle Dalton’s costumes and Lucy Carter’s lighting. There are various intricately worked out numbers with dozens of people on stage, including an impressive dance troupe, which run naturally and exuberantly – and presumably hide many hours of rigorous rehearsal. Tevye’s dream is a particular delight.

The BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by David Charles Abell is a luxury pit band indeed, augmented with touches of Klezmer clarinet and accordion, and of course an onstage fiddler.

Terfel has proved that he can treat lighter music with respect and sincerity, not to mention plenty of good humour

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters