Opera on Location: The Prodigal Son
Kelham Island Museum Courtyard | August 2021
After a successful digital performance of Cinderella in Christmas 2020, the people of South Yorkshire were no doubt thrilled to hear the news that Opera on Location were planning a live opera in Summer 2021. Featuring a 10-strong ensemble plus three incredible vocalists, the short and poignant story of Debussy’s The Prodigal Son will touch the hearts of many.
Using new orchestrations by local award-winning orchestrator and conductor, George Morton, Debussy’s music comes alive throughout this opera. Juliane Gallant returns to Opera on Location as Musical Director, and her dynamic handling of the musicians and George’s score is sensitive and effective.
As with all Opera on Location productions, accessibility is a huge consideration. Ashley Pearson returns as librettist for this opera, with her interpretation of Debussy’s text set in English aptly bringing the audience closer to the production. She manages to strike the balance between story, text and music, creating a really special story.
Some familiar names also return on stage with Andrea Tweedale, Thomas D Hopkinson and Gareth Lloyd portraying the broken family. All vocalists were balanced, powerful and the acting paired with the vocals also stacked up nicely. Gareth’s sensitive tenor voice allowed him to add vulnerability to the role of Azaël, whereas Thomas’ deep bass voice added drama to the close-minded father role. Andrea’s vocals soared on top, with her power and technique shining through.
The simple staging keeps the focus on the story and music, and although this is perhaps the shortest and simplest of Opera on Location’s more recent productions, after the last two years it is a much-needed part of the classical music regrowth.
All Covid-19 rules and regulations were adhered to, with the performance taking place outside in the Kelham Island Museum courtyard. Many thanks to the team for allowing me to watch the filming yesterday. There are four performances of The Prodigal Son happening tomorrow – Sunday 15th August 2021. Times below:
12.30pm – Limited Availability
2.30pm – SOLD OUT
4.30pm – SOLD OUT
6.30pm – Limited Availability
About Opera on Location
Founded in 2013 following the success of Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Winter Garden, Opera on Location is a vibrant opera company which aims to perform high quality site-specific opera and provide opportunities for young singers at the beginning of their professional careers. Company founders Kathryn Gasic and Garth Lloyd are passionate about opera and believe it should be accessible to all.