One Good Operatic Turn Deserves Another


 IT’s perhaps churlish to suggest that anything vaguely operatic should not be without opera-pop crossover diva Katherine Jenkins.

Certainly in 2005, entrance to Leeds and Temple Newsam’s annual Opera in the Park , at which the Welsh bombshell warbled, was free and attracted major stars aplenty.

This year’s extravaganza, dare I say it, seemed more of a ‘ganza’ compared to previous years; more of a sparkling perry than a fine champagne – but with plenty of fizz nonetheless.

Yes, Leeds Festival Chorus was there in its ever musical might; the Orchestra of Opera North was as flawless as ever, and Aled Jones, who is rapidly turning into a cross over himself  between Terry Wogan and the late Sir Harry Secombe, was both note perfect and amusing as a host.

Laura Wright, and Amore were also magnificent.   

Wright, at the tender age of just 22, is as alluring of Ms Jenkins and has already had a No 1 album on the classical music charts with 2011’s The Last Rose, as well as touring with the likes of global superstars Alfie Boe, Andrea Bocelli and Russell Watson.

She has made a name for herself playing the country’s most prestigious venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, Wembley and Olympic Stadium, as well as performing the official track for Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, ‘Stronger As One’, and singing for The Queen more times than anybody else in 2012.

Amore were no less lovely, having graduated from the Royal College of Music, and having catapulted themselves into the national consciousness.

They have headlined the Royal Albert Hall for three consecutive nights, as well as performed at the National Anthem ahead of the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium.

Under the baton of Martin Andre, the Orchestra and Chorus were perhaps never more powerful than in performing an extract from Wagner’s Tannhauser.

Against the backdrop of rain curtains and thunderclouds, and the spotlights from Temple Newsam, with its ancient Templar associations, the bowl of the arena afforded an almost Teutonic or Stygian gloom.

Oh, then, perhaps for one more star in the pack rather than witness the slight prestidigitation of musical reshuffles of the acts  - as fine as the collected ensemble is.

It’s magnificent that Leeds continues to host such a spectacle annually.

But just as Wagner perhaps felt he never quite got Tannhauser quite right, perhaps one more rabbit out of this musical hat, against a final backdrop of fireworks, might just have been the crowning glory, as the rain came down.