Who would have thought to ever hear the strains of Puccini’s glorious “Nessun dorma” soaring above the clatter and chatter of a pub?
Well, last night the crowd in the upstairs bar of the Harold Park Hotel (The Harold) heard tenor Peter-John Layton give his all in this famous operatic aria.
This was part of the first concert of a series at The Harold that will see opera performed monthly on a Tuesday evening at 7.30pm by the lively quartet that comprise Opera Bites, described as “Sydney’s boutique opera company”.
It signals a revival of the Harold Park Hotel as well, which licensee Jason (rumoured to be an actor) is hoping to turn into an arts hub, something he initiated with monthly stand-up comedy on Tuesdays at 7.30pm, the next night being on 11 April.
Before or during the show, The Harold will serve you a wonderful range of food and wine, which I sampled with a delicious Linguini pescatore (and I never eat pasta!) accompanied by a glass of Shy Pig bubbly.
Last night’s show was titled “Celebrated Highlights from the World’s Favourite Operas”, and indeed it lived up to its title, with beloved arias that included “O mio babbino caro” (Gianni Schicchi – Puccini) sung plaintively by lively Rae Levien, “Un bel di” (Madama Butterfly – Puccini) also sung plaintively by the elegant Eliane Morel, and “La calunnia” (The Barber of Seville – Rossini) sung with great wit by bass/baritone Murray Dahm, who doubled as MC.
The ensemble pieces, such as the Rigoletto quartet, were really well done and easy on the ear.
The costumes added to the atmosphere, as did the cast members’ easy interactions with audience members as they circulated among them.
The music was provided Nathaniel Kong, who did a great job of substituting his little keyboard for an entire orchestra.
Although you might have expected mostly grey heads in attendance for such a program, quite a few young people had signed up for the show, including a young lady under 30 with spectacularly green hair.
If you’ve been too frightened to go to opera at the big house, this is a fabulous way to ease yourself into this enduring and endearing artform.