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“New Sussex Opera performed this with utter honesty, starting with Lee Reynolds and his orchestra – in a scoring reduced from Delius’s massive 110 to the 24 members of the young professional Kantanti Ensemble. This was real playing: all Delius’s surprisingly varied textures (even if his falling chromatic motifs get a bit predictable) brought to life by a classy string section, plus really characterful work from solo winds, and Reynolds conducted with a lot of passion and feeling for these heady, eddying vortices of music.
The very engaging lead couple – Kirsty Taylor-
Every now and then someone unearths a piece by Delius and holds its opaline gorgeousness up to the light to glimmer for a moment before it is shoved back into hiding. The rarity of his music is our loss, and it speaks volumes about the prejudices of the musical herd-
The effort that has gone into the NSO production is enormous. It includes an arrangement of the lavish score, which normally requires about 110 players, including triple woodwind, for an orchestra of just 24 – the young professional Kantanti Ensemble, conducted by Lee Reynolds – and an updating of some of the stilted original text. The staging by Susannah Waters focuses on the hardship and alienation facing the star-
The opera as a whole rests squarely on the shoulders of its lead soloists. For Vreli and Sali this is a big sing and an emotional rollercoaster. As Vreli, the strong, soaring soprano of Kirsty Taylor-
Both the amateur chorus and the excellent Kantanti Ensemble gave their all, the latter managing to sound like a much larger concern in The Walk to the Paradise Garden. Though the score really needs its full-
Reviews and comments: A Village Romeo and Juliet
New Sussex Opera has garnered a well-
“A distinguished performance, starting out with a blustery, purposeful manner, and unfolding each scene with considerable sweep and brio.”
Ian Beadle convincingly embodied the elusive Dark Fiddler with lyrical and quiet lustre as the Gurnemanz-
**** A brave attempt to bring Delius' problematic but intriguing opera to stage life
I found the production highly atmospheric…the way Susannah Waters make the chorus members a constant presence was a strong plus point in focusing the drama. KirstyTaylor-
Ian Beadle made a rather wistful Dark Fiddler, emphasising the character's vagabond nature and the seductive idea of otherness, rather than mining the sense of mythic strangeness which can also apply to the character.
Robert Gildon and Geoffrey Moses made strong work of the small roles of the children's father, who develop their dispute over as strip of land into something all consuming. The smaller roles were all characterfully sung and the chorus entered with a will into Waters' concept and really created a sense of community on stage.
I have great admiration for New Sussex Opera's dramatic achievements with the work, and the way Lee Reynolds drew some fine textures from his players and strong performances from his soloists. And I am extremely glad that the company braved the opera's reputation to give us a chance to experience it on stage. Robert Hugill
Tim Ashley -
“An admirably ambitious production”. Opera Today
“Fine playing from the ensemble under Lee Reynolds.” Luke Sinclair sings Sali with a sense of style and frequent lyrical beauty. There was an excellent programme – not always the case with smaller companies”. Lark Review
Lee Reynolds’s reduced scoring has been achieved with no little skill: as his sympathetic conducting also showed, he has a real feeling for this music. Seen and Heard International
“The production solved some almost impossible problems with great imagination and sympathy”.