mon 17/06/2024

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra, Scapucci, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall | reviews, news & interviews

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra, Scapucci, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra, Scapucci, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall

Conductor’s début follows the path of other greats

Speranza Scapucci: already a name on the opera circuit

The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic has something of a track record when it comes to finding conductors destined for great heights. After all, Sir Simon Rattle was a player in Merseyside Youth Orchestra and started his conducting career in Liverpool. The latest RLPO concert, following that great tradition, included a new face. And what an impact she made.

The audience evidently loved her – a partial standing ovation, which is something of a rarity on Hope Street – and plenty of whoops and whistles (in the best possible taste) surely mean that she’ll soon be beating a return path to the Liverpool podium.

Speranza Scapucci has made rather a name on the opera circuit. She’s worked alongside Muti at the Met in New York, as well as in Salzburg and Rome. She’s worked with the Vienna State Opera, Chicago Lyric, Santa Fe Opera, New York City Opera and, closer to home, Glyndebourne and Scottish Opera. And here she was in Liverpool, conducting a mini opera.

It’s often said that the Requiem was Verdi’s best opera.  Is the Stabat Mater Rossini’s best operatic effort? Quite possibly. The efforts of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir went a long way to confirming that. As always, this 100-plus chorus were disciplined and diction perfect (thanks, in no small part, to chorus master Ian Tracey). They were ever responsive to the requirements of the conductor.  Their barely audible start to the Rossini set the scene almost perfectly.  But all was not necessarily well. In the "Eia Mater" movement, for instance, the men felt shaky, almost as if sight-reading the piece.

Lawrence BrownlessThe Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, usually so reactive to the needs of the choir, were just occasionally overpowering, certainly as far as the soloists were concerned. The tenor, Lawrence Brownlee (pictured right by Ken Howard), who had a splendidly flexible voice, was often drowned out by the orchestra.

There were some splendid moments from bass Luca Dall’Amico and mezzo-soprano Silvia tro Santafé. The bass solo in "Pro peccatis" was especially profound. But most notable was the balance and equilibrium obtained by this quartet: the "Sancta Mater" was particularly moving. But when it came to the unaccompanied penultimate movement of the work, this was a moment to savour. And then into the hugely disciplined double fugue at the end. The massive pauses, where the hall was totally silent and the choir so superbly disciplined, heightened the drama considerably.

The concert opened with a disciplined interpretation of Schubert’s Overture in the Italian Style in D (D590). From an almost imperceptible opening, Scappucci drove the piece into a sprightly development. The RLPO woodwind were particularly elegant, bubbling away as the work progressed.Soprano Marina Rebeka was something of a disappointment in Mozart’s Exultate, jubilate (as she was in the Rossini). She had her head buried in the score for most of the performance and avoided eye contact with the sell-out audience. Nerves? Unfamiliarity? Who knows? Still, this was a confident performance. The voice lacked excessive vibrato and felt suited to the period. Runs were clear, the clarity excellent. What a shame that it felt rather apologetic.

Is the Stabat Mater Rossini’s best operatic effort? Quite possibly.


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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