New Talent in Mozart’s Impresario at Edinburgh

United KingdomUnited Kingdom Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012 (1) – Mozart, The Impresario: Melos Sinfonia, Oliver Zeffman, Paradise in Augustine’s (Venue 152) 5.8.2012 (ST)

Mme Herz: Nazan Fikret (soprano)
Mlle Silverton: Victoria Atkinson (soprano)
Frank Squallido: Samuel Carl (bass)
Buff: Bradley Smith (tenor)

Never mind the Olympics in London; in Edinburgh the world comes to visit every year, and as August begins so kicks off the annual celebration of the Fringe, still the world’s biggest arts festival by itself. It may well be the International Festival that attracts the big names, but there’s a lot for music lovers to enjoy on the fringe too, and one of its biggest appeals is spotting new talent on the way up.

This version of Mozart’s singspiel fits that bill well. The Melos Sinfonia is a group founded and run by young conductor Oliver Zeffman (who has just completed his first year of an undergraduate degree at Durham). For their Edinburgh show he has gathered a group of only eleven instrumentalists but they play with precision and blend very well, with particularly impressive string sound, and he kept the bounce of Mozart’s music going well.

The group of singers, all students or recent graduates, was also very solid, led by the very impressive soprano of Nazan Fikret. Hers is a lovely voice, rich, ripe and clear with an especially beautiful top. Her projection and coloratura were also very good, though she should work on her breath control for some of the more rapid passages. Opposite her Victoria Atkinson was less secure, stretched at the top with an overall breathiness to her tone, though her acting style was winning. The two men don’t have much to sing but they did so very well. Bradley Smith’s put-upon assistant came to life when he sang in the two ensembles, producing a clean, smooth tenor which was very pleasant to listen to, and Samuel Carl has a good, rich bass with authoritative tone and decent depth.

Musically speaking, then, they’re a very talented bunch. However, their adaptation of the text was over-indulgent, mainly because they retain far too much text in their new version. It’s amusing in places but tedious in others. The show would be much improved if they slashed the dialogue and gave the music centre stage.

The Impresario continues at Edinburgh until 12th August and will have one performance at St Leonard’s Church, Shoreditch on 15th August. For more details see here.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe continues until 27th August at a range of venues across the city. For full details click here.

Simon Thompson