June 25, 2012 | Posted in:Concerts, photos, Review

The toils of a standing cellist on a dynamic set…

Pagliacci rehearsals

play on forward slope

play sloping right

play sloping left

play sloping backwards

No wonder my back is aching!

So it's good to hear it's worth it in this review in the Irish Examiner today….

 

Pagliacci 
Everyman Palace, Cork

Monday, June 25, 2012

The well-publicised reinterpretation of Leoncavallo’s opera by John O’Brien and Michael Barker-Craven is a resounding success.

From the moment one crosses the threshold of the theatre, one is in a totally different, magical world that combines circus, drama, puppetry, funfair, and music — a perfect mixture to open a Midsummer Festival. While there are some (very few) elements that I could wish were otherwise, this magnificently imagined and superbly realised production is one that I would love to see again and again. 

While, naturally, the transformation of the theatre, and use of the theatrical spaces, plus the costumes, set, lighting, and the appearance of a cast of unexpected characters, all massively contribute to the success of the production, in the final analysis the music and the musicians are what make an opera. 

In this case John O’Brien has, once again, gathered around him a group of singers and players who share his vision and create a most wonderfully effective sound world that totally absorbs the listener. 

The sudden entrance from the vestibule of the chorus, the cast, the strolling orchestra and the circus performers to occupy the ground floor aisles sets the mood. 

Then, from Brendan Collins’ (Tonio) splendid singing of the Prologue right through to Ronald Samm’s (Canio) broken-hearted Ridi Pagliaccio, which brings down the curtain, the excitement/tension never lets up. I was distracted during Cara O’Sullivan’s lovely Stridone lassu by an incredibly brilliant aerial acrobat (Michaela Heyer) performing over her head, but nothing could distract from the wonderfully exciting, unconducted, Bell Chorus, the drama of Vesti la giubba, the tenderness of Silvio, a questa ora, or the marvellous, Marja Gaynor-led, orchestral playing of both the chamber group and the full orchestra.

 

 

 

And another from the Cork Independent

 

Although I'd never class myself an opera fan, there's no doubt I'm a fan of Pagliacci, after seeing this epic production by the Cork Operatic Society live and in glorious technicolour at the Everyman Palace Theatre on Friday evening.

Lisa Zagone's fantastic, imaginative set and costume design makes Pagliacci a feast for the eyes, and the production makes excellent use of the Everyman's turreted booths, pushing the stage out into the audience to include its surrounds as part of the set. 

Musicians participate directly in the action, performing behind, beside and even among the singers, once or twice becoming key parts of the action, while the clever use of colour integrates them into the Everyman's ornate decor.

The ingenious design means audience is truly pulled into the world of Pagliacci, a world of circus performers embroiled in a tragic love triangle. 

While the story – apart from its circus setting – is nothing you wouldn't find in an episode of Eastenders, featuring a jealous lover, a jilted suitor and a tragic finale, the performances by leads Cara O'Sullivan, Ronald Samm, David Burzotta, Brendan Collins and Simon Morgan are startlingly good.

A chorus made up of members of the Cork Operatic Society lends a huge depth to the production, and the sheer numbers on stage and in the theatre – almost surrounding the audience in parts – make it at times overwhelmingly powerful. 

This is an incredibly ambitious production, and the team from the Everyman, Cork Operatic Society, Cork Midsummer Festival, Barabbas and Cork Circus, directed by John O'Brien and Michael Barker-Caven, have really pulled it off. Bravo.

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