Manor Barn, Bexhill, Sunday 28th October 2018
An afternoon of Baroque scenes made for a pleasing sequence from Opera South East. With a small chamber ensemble under Kenneth Roberts and the welcome addition of the Fipple Consort of recorders, the scenes flowed smoothly, bookended by Purcell but taking in on the way works by Monteverdi, Handel and Gay. Perhaps the most unexpected delight was the two arias from Telemann’s Pimpenone.
The afternoon drew on solo voices from the chorus who were appropriately dressed with white Georgian makeup and wigs above black costumes. They came into their own as the low-life in excerpts from Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera while also filling in as shepherds and rustics along the way.
Soprano Lucy Ashton proved to be the star of the show, if such a one were needed, moving effortlessly from Purcell’s Night to Dido, whilst also giving us Poppea and Cleopatra. Within the confines of the Manor Barn her voice was pleasingly warm and emotionally moving, particularly in the death of Dido.
A remarkably full house made for an intimate and rewarding afternoon.