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WNO's Beatrice and Benedict (Plymouth - tour)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Second up on the Welsh National Opera’s touring trio is Berlioz’s musical – I am loathe to call it an opera given that it is for the most part spoken – Beatrice and Benedict.

A reworking of the Hero/Claudio, Beatrice/Benedict plots from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, it is here sung in English with piecemeal glittering repartee from the Bard interspersed with Geoffrey Dunn’s translation. Too much of a mish mash for me.

Elijah Moshinsky’s revived 1994 production demands the WNO to be able to act rather than sing and there are some believable dramatic performances while the only voice that particularly stands out is Cornwall’s Anna Burford as Ursula. Burford’s duet ‘Vous soupirez d’un coeur aimant’ with Hero (Laura Mitchell) is particularly lovely.

Robin Tritschler is credible as Benedict, as is Sara Fulgoni as Beatrice, but neither has much to sing while the show is stolen by Donald Maxwell, again in the pretty much non-singing role of Somarone.

It is a gift of a part full of in-jokes, witty rapport and asides, and ample opportunity for slapstick.

Michael Yeargan’s superb set oozes Renaissance Messina infused with atmospheric Mediterranean sun and moonlight courtesy of Howard Harrison’s lighting while Michael Hofstetter conducts with gusto and Dona Granata’s costumes are traditional.

Not good enough as Shakespeare, not enough for opera, rather lacklustre.


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