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pinchgut opera : women of the pieta

A most glorious, luscious musical and vocal feast in the latest Pinchgut at Home – Women of the Pieta.  One can imagine oneself in the splendour of Venice listening to some of the music performed by the women and girls at Vivaldi’s Ospedale della Pietà, the refuge for orphaned and/or abandoned /disabled girls in Venice where Vivaldi was violin master.

Under the most enthusiastic and yet precise direction of Erin Helyard and the splendid Orchestra of the Antipodes, (with  Baroque period instruments) blending with terrific support from Cantillation, and the concert also turns the spotlight on Australian soprano Miriam Allan. The structure of the works is most important, at times like a mathematical circle of repeats or luscious, rich, joyous blending and entwining.

Lighting by Trent Suidgeest was atmospheric and alluded to the music’s past of being performed in a hallowed place.

The concert began with Vivaldi’s Concerto for 2 Horns in F major, RV 539, performed by Carla Blackwood and Dorée Dixon with the Orchestra of the Antipodes. Blackwood and Dixon performed on valveless Baroque horns, very challenging to play, but their performance appeared fluid and simple, with a bright tone , an assuredness of pitch  and seamless phrasing.

Allan magnificently performed with poise two solo pieces, shooting vocal fireworks in Vivaldi’s In furore iustissimae irae and in Laudate pueri she soared, pleading and humbly worshipping but full of bright and burnished breathless anticipation.Her dulcet voice is supple and mellifluous.

Wonderful Cantillation filed on stage (Pinchgut’s splendid chorus) and next we heard the nine part of Vivaldi’s Magnificat (RV 610), a stunned, humble prayer to the glory of God by the Virgin Mary – ‘My soul doth magnify the Lord”.  Eloquent and pensive it was full of both lyrical and harsh and spiky segments, with some quite varied rich harmonies.

The ensemble pieces were thrilling, at times joyous and tumbling, at others more lyrical and reflective,  with strong pulsating underlying rhythms and beats.

Highlights also included a duet performed by Allan and Chloe Lankshear,  Pinchgut’s inaugural Taryn Fiebig  Scholar where they cordially blended conflicting voices and Allan’s dazzling performances were  bright and joyous, her burnished voice ascending , the music rippling and enfolding. There were vocal fireworks for the triumphant concluding Amen.

Allan then treated us to the second motet, Vivaldi’s Laudate pueri Dominum (RV 601) a shimmering haunting song of praise with obligato flute accompaniment as played by Mikaela Oberg.

Next came the Australian premiere of Galuppi’s (1706-85) Dixit Dominus (1706-85), composed for a rival ospedale, The Incurabilli, where he worked during the 1660’s and 1670’s.

The Baroque horns returned to accompany Cantillation. The music was at times emphatic, a tumultuous wave of sound, or oozing, sometimes lyrical, sometimes crashing and menacing, all leading to a volcanic conclusion.

The audience went wild with thunderous applause and cheers.

We were then treated to Allan singing Purcell’s Now that the Sun hath veil’d his light with Helyard on the chamber organ – a poignant, gleaming finish to the concert.

Running time 1hr 45  no interval










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