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Tuesday 29 & Wednesday 30 August 2017
"David Ward’s stirring production of Alfred boasted outstanding singers and an orchestra under Christopher Pelly that was extremely light on its toes. William Wallace’s Alfred and Catrin Woodruff as his queen showed confident coloratura, peaking in the latter half of ‘Rule, Britannia’ with red-blooded ornamentation. Joseph Bolger’s full-bodied countertenor prince, with Helen Stanley and William Branston as rustics, completed an assured cast.
The festival is off to a good start. The two evenings offered reassuring evidence of operatic talent continuing to bubble up across the north of England"
Martin Dreyer, Opera magazine
"Production director David Ward creates a close rapport with the characters by arranging the audience seating around the stage. Balance is enhanced by placing the orchestra in the chancel, to the rear of the stage.
The five splendid young singers demonstrate their mastery of florid vocal style. [...] William Wallace as King Alfred, Joe Bolger as his son Edward, Catrin Woodruff as Queen Eltruda, William Branston as the loyal yeoman Corin, and Helen Stanley as his wife Emma all deserve the highest praise. And how thrilling to hear Rule Britannia in its original context.
The orchestra, conducted by Christopher Pelly, combined clarity of texture with atmospheric colours.
Leeds Left Bank Opera Festival returns next year to bring artists and audiences together in celebration of rare and wonderful operas. The City's cultural scene has been crying out for such an event"
Geoffrey Mogridge, Wharfedale Observer / Ilkley Gazette
"This was a highly enjoyable, and at times stirring, performance. First there was Arne’s engaging score. Bouncy tempi project the work forward, underpinning the military endeavours, but these are interspersed with more reflective passages in which emotion is expressed through the vocal ornamentation of melodic ideas. And a very talented group of young enthusiastic singers had been assembled. Outstanding among these was Catrin Woodruff. As Alfred’s consort Eltruda she had a truly regal presence, and an appropriately majestic rich soprano to match, negotiating the intricacies of the vocal line without difficulty and varying tone and colour when moving from fervour to sadness and despair.
Any drawbacks were minor, relative to the overall impact of the performance. And who in the audience could not go home happy with a piece which has Rule Britannia as its finale?"
Anthony Ogus, Opera Now
"Left Bank Opera Festival - the first of many.
Judging from the quality of the performance of Alfred, the attendance and the enthusiastic response, the Left Bank Opera Festival should become an annual event.
Under David Ward’s direction, the performance makes imaginative use of the immense hall space, with audience seating all around on three sides. No furniture, almost no props, but the audience is involved by the immediate presence of the singers before, between, even behind the seats.
Catrin Woodruff (Eltruda) is outstanding: given the arias that carry the main emotional heft, she sings them with dramatic intensity. William Wallace, a not very regal Alfred, brings a rich and nuanced tenor to the part and both he and Woodruff make the most of the opera’s “hit song”, Rule Britannia, bringing the evening to a close with a heady mix of patriotic fervour and baroque ornamentation [...] Helen Stanley’s boldness of attack as Emma demands attention; Corin is admirably served by the clean lines of William Branston’s tenor"
Ron Simpson, Review's Hub