Puccini given soaring tenderness

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Guest soloist Leonard Elschenbroich joined BSO for Elgar's Cello Eulogy

REVIEW: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra – Elgar’s Cello Eulogy at Portsmouth Guildhall

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Kings Theatre, Southsea

Puccini was frank about Edgar: ‘May God protect you from this opera,’ he wrote. But God has happily decided otherwise.

Obviously this early work lacks the tautness and much of the melodic personality of the composer’s later masterpieces, and obviously the reduced orchestra in this ‘semi-staged’ UK premiere of the original four-act version could not do justice to the luxuriance of the scoring.

But it was certainly worth seeing the production by the mainly professional New Sussex Opera with the St Paul’s Sinfonia - conducted by Nicholas Jenkins with passionate commitment and a flair for colouring.

The one disappointment was that tenor John Hudson, as the man loved by two women, had his head too deep in the score to phrase as freely, lyrically and powerfully as the role demands.

In that he was given a lesson by both Mary Plazas and Gweneth-Ann Jeffers.

Nothing surpassed the precision and artistry of Ms Plazas’s soaring yet supple tenderness.