"Fantastic night at the opera..."

Opera Alba...states its aim is "bringing opera to the people of Scotland and beyond".
This it achieves admirably, and much more.

Reviews & Testimonials

 

1-2pm, Saturday 27th June 2015, part of the Sphere Concert Series
Duo Alba with Robert Melling

“On Saturday 27th June the audience in Renfield St. Stephen’s Church in Glasgow were given a treat.  Steven Faughey, Daisy Henderson and Robert Melling combined to enchant, entertain and impress with “Summer Songs…and some are not.”  This collection of songs and the spoken word was ably presented and performed with gusto, panache and experience by everyone involved. 

Daisy led the way with “La ci carem la mano” paired dramatically with Steven, a “Duo Alba” with intent!  If you were in any doubt about the meaning of the duet (in Italian) then Daisy’s introduction briefly and expertly set the scene, to say nothing of the dramatic hints given here and there by both performers. 

As the music flowed between opera, then light opera and then later to other offerings, we as an audience were left in no doubt about the expertise in front of us.  Each moment was etched with beautiful singing and clarified with touches to enhance and attract.  The time just disappeared.  Even our all-encompassing accompanist joined in to give the singers a rest. His Notturno by Grieg, prefaced by an aptly judged introduction, was serene and offset the other material of the hour-long recital excellently. 

Once past the half way mark we were offered some humorous songs about Midges and Pigeons, all delivered with the panache mentioned earlier.  Smiles were the order of the day and we were asked even to join in and………rehearsed thoroughly too!  All in all an excellent hour, topped off with a kind encore.  My only gripe, if there was one at all, was that Steven’s voice was lost on one or two occasions in his lower register against Daisy’s bright soprano above.  All words, whether serious or funny, were clearly enunciated and, it appeared, were “lived in” by the singers.
A lovely concert from all concerned.
Audience member, Renfield St Stephen’s, 260 Bath Street, Glasgow G2 4JP

 

Stranraer Music Society

"Thanks so much for last night's concert - there was a real buzz in the audience both at the interval and at the end....how well the music had been tailored to fit our audience.... thanks again for giving our new season a great start."
Steve Flower, Stranraer Music Society,18/9/15.

 

Sweet Music.... Opera Alba were a smash hit at the Moffat Music Club

"Opera Alba's concert on February 6 was a constant source of delight and enchantment.  Sopranos Daisy Henderson and Jenny Wilson-Best, tenor Adam Magee, baritone Steven Faughey accompanied by pianist Derek Clark, gave an exhilarating and fascinating insight into the variety of music that opera, operetta and musicals offer. 
After the spirited rousing Brindisi from Verdi's La Traviata announced their arrival on stage, Daisy introduced the ensemble before setting the scene for Tosca's poignant Vissi d'arte. Witty or amusing introductions and interactions with each other throughout added to our enjoyment, as well as placing situations in context.  Tosca's moving aria opened with bewildered reflection and prayer reflected in changing tone and colour, and led to resignation and despair.  As a foil to the Verdi it could hardly have been bettered.  The evening was filled with varied solos, duets, trios and quartets sometimes linked to others, but mostly standing alone, in which a wide emotional range was explored.  Comic pieces, dependent upon either situation or words, were scattered through the programme.

A few highlights, yours may well differ from mine, were: the quartet, Mir ist so Wunderbar (Fidelio) in which the comic but potentially tragic situation was enhanced by characterisation and mood; the gentle humour behind Steven's interpretation of Lovely Women (Cosi fan Tutte); the pointed wit and interaction of Man and Wife (Magic Flute); a suitably enacted and updated Gendarmes' Duet, although the originally indicated falsetto was absent; a moving performance of Bring Him Home (Les Miserables) with a beautifully controlled diminuendo ending; Derek Clark's arrangements of My Love is like a red, red rose and a hauntingly atmospheric Scarborough Fair; the hilarious A Word in my Ear (Flanders and Swann) and our involvement and singing in a modernised I've Got a Little List - great fun. Add to this a splendid medley of music from My Fair Lady, and another of Gwershwin songs, and many other pieces not mentioned.  No wonder the appreciative audience was generous in its final applause.  A reflective encore left the audience wanting more, but that will have to wait.  It had been a magical evening.  Rapport had been established quickly, the singing was always captivating, had excellent blend, and diction was first class.  Derek Clark's excellent supportive accompaniment offered impetus, mood, colour and virtuosity as necessary."
Moffat News 12/2/15.

 

Gatehouse of Fleet Music Society

I write to express the gratitude of all who attended our concert on Thursday evening for the music making and joy you brought to us.  Not only did we enjoy the occasion, but we were entertained, in part by the choices made in planning the programme, but more by what you each brought to the various items it contained.
There was sparkle, and pathos; solemnity and fun: all underlined so beautifully by Soojeong's playing.  A huge 'Thank you' to you all.
(Jean Green, Gatehouse of Fleet Music Society, 4/12/14)

 

Lockerbie Music Society

Members and their friends were delighted to welcome Opera Alba to their Christmas Concert at the Queen’s Hotel Lockerbie on 10th December 2013. This exciting ensemble have all sung with Scottish Opera - Daisy Henderson, soprano, Jenny Wilson-Best, soprano, Steven Faughey, baritone, and Matthew Bridle, tenor and they were accompanied by Derek Clark, the Head of Music at Scottish Opera. They opened the concert in style when all the singers joined together in Alfredo and Violetta’s drinking song, ‘Brindisi’ from La Traviata. This sparkling opening to the concert set the scene for an evening of sheer delight.

This was followed by familiar pieces from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro and Cosi fan Tutte, then the most beautiful trio ‘Soave sia il Vento.’ This famous  aria from Cosi fan Tutte was sung by both sopranos and the baritone with such  gentle and touching feeling that the audience was momentarily quiet at its end, breathing in Mozart’s musical genius.  Ever popular pieces from Gianni Schicchi, Porgy and Bess and the comic rendition of the Gendarmes’ Duet showed the artists at their very best and left the listeners wanting more. The first half ended with the ‘Champagne Chorus ‘ from Die Fledermaus, delivered with style, bravado and laughter.

The second half of the evening concert covered songs from the shows together with traditional folk songs. The arrangement by Derek Clark of Robert Burns‘ “My love is like a red, red rose,” sung by the quartet was quite stunning. Sung so beautifully with a quiet, gentle and tearful tone, it overwhelmed the audience for a while before being greeted with prolonged applause. The singers and their accompanist had reached new heights. Members enjoyed songs from Kurt Weill, Gilbert and Sullivan and selections from Lerner and Loewe’s ‘My Fair lady.’ Daisy Henderson then produced a character performance of Cole Porter’s ‘I Hate Men.’ It had been a wonderful evening and ended with Jerome Kern’s wistful song, ‘The Way you look Tonight.’ The encore brought the four wonderful singers standing in a row, politely singing, ‘The Ascot Opening Day’ from ‘My Fair Lady’ and this was the icing on the cake!

 

Coro Alba, Thurso Live Music Association

“On Friday 29th November in Thurso we had an absolutely wonderful programme of opera and songs from the shows, performed with style and panache by Coro Alba and their superb accompanist, Derek Clark.  They gave us an evening of joy and our audience were all enchanted with their singing.  Thurso Live Music could not have had a better concert than this to celebrate our Golden Jubilee.” (Margaret Smedley, Treasurer)

“The HIGHLIGHT of Thurso Live Music Association`s recent celebration of their Golden Jubilee was a performance by CORO ALBA.  A lively evening of excellent singing and entertainment.” (Barbara Myatt, Secretary)

“It was a great pleasure having you here and everyone thought the concert was wonderful. It was exactly what was needed for a 50th anniversary entertainment. The programme was excellent. It was so  varied and recalled  many memories for us all. I think all audiences enjoy introductions and this group did it so well. You were so professional and we hope we can hear you again in the not too distant future.” audience member

 

Coro Alba launch new season (Ryan Centre, Stranraer on Friday 26th October)

From the first chord on the piano it was clear that the opening concert of Stranraer Music for All’s new season would be the perfect antidote to the wet October evening. The programme included excerpts from ten of the fourteen Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. The eight singers and their accompanist, all regular performers with Scottish Opera, began with ‘Dance a Cachucha’ from The Gondoliers followed by the equally well known tenor solo ‘Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes’. By the time they had finished, eyes were sparkling and toes were tapping throughout the theatre. A delightful a cappella madrigal from Ruddigore followed, demonstrating fine ensemble singing from the group and the variety of form to be found within the Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire. No Gilbert and Sullivan concert would be complete without The Mikado and, amongst other items from the show, the patter song ’I’ve got a Little List’, nicely brought up to date with references to MPs and bankers, gave many members of the audience the opportunity to join in the chorus. The clarity of the diction that we had already come to expect meant that none of the wit was missed.
Stranraer and Wigtownshire Free Press -  published Thursday 15th November.


The members of the group took turns to introduce the items, interacting with each other and building up a rapport with the audience. Although not staged, the singers brought out the usual nonsense and business expected from Gilbert and Sullivan and, in contrast, included the dramatic recitative and aria ‘Alone and Yet Alive’, also from The Mikado, and the more hymn –like ‘I Hear the Soft Note’ from Patience. The programme included a solo from each member of the group which allowed the different timbre of each voice to be truly appreciated, but also included were duets, trios, quartets and items from the whole ensemble where the voices blended seamlessly.
All too soon the evening came to an end – always the sign of a good concert. Stranraer Music for All had welcomed an audience that was nearly 50% bigger than the average for last season. The comments at the end were very enthusiastic, the most common being ‘When are they coming back?’ With such a ringing endorsement, I suspect the answer may be ‘Sooner rather than later’!

 

We were all thrilled with the super concert you put on for our 50th Birthday celebration..... Well done Opera Alba!  It was lovely to have such a delightful selection of music with many old favourites and some surprises too... we look forward to hearing you again."  Marjorie Bourne, Perthshire Friends of Scottish Opera

Lively, accessible, cheerful and sparkling were some of the many appreciative comments from the audience at Thurso Live Music Association`s recent Christmas party concert.  OPERA ALBA performed a glorious mixed programme of solos, duets, trios and quartets, setting the festive tone for an evening of great entertainment. The talented pianist, Derek Clark, seamlessly accompanied sopranos Daisy Henderson  and Jenny Wilson Best, tenor Adam Magee and baritone Steven Faughey as they held us spellbound, making everyone able to ignore the raging winter blasts outside.  A splendid festive treat which left the audience smiling and wishing for more!
Committee member Emma Omand, Thurso Live Music Association, 8th December 2011

Thank you for coming all the way to give us such a delightful evening,  everyone  loved it. The programme was well balanced - great singing, both ensemble and solo, with fun and a fine rapport with the audience.
Thank you all again for battling through the elements!
Barbara Myatt, Thurso Live Music Association, 8th December 2011

 

“After a fraught day when our regular venue was flooded, Opera Alba was the perfect tonic, easing away the stresses of the day in a local church with a digital piano.  Five consummate musicians, all with wide operatic experience, who immediately established a rapport with the audience performing the Brindisi from La Traviata (perhaps we’ll get a reprise when Scottish Opera tour it later in 2012), entertained with a well-selected programme of arias, duets, trios and quartets from opera, operetta and the world of the musical.  Highlight followed highlight, but if a choice has to be made, then of special memory would be the Flower Duet from Lakme, Donald Swann’s A Word on My Ear, Scarborough Fair and a rip-roaring I Got Rhythm to close the evening.  Thank you Opera Alba!  You turned what could have been a disastrous day into a triumph.”
James Munro, Inverness Chamber Music Society, 7th December 2011

 

(Inverness Music Society's concert on 7th December 2012, relocated from the Town House to St Stephen's Church)
Margaret and I were so delighted that we attended the above.
A lovely location and some wonderful singing. We thought the performers were more at home singing opera than show numbers but, given that they were all opera singers, that was hardly surprising and it suited us fine as we’re opera-fans anyway! Many thanks for a very, very enjoyable night.
Jim & Margaret Lorrain-Smith

 

Opera Alba open season with a bang

WHAT a welcome start to Newton Stewart and District Music Club’s new season.

Their first programme opened on Sunday at Newton Stewart Cinema with a wonderfully refreshing evening of operatic highlights in a performance by Opera Alba.

Opera Alba, the quartet of Jenny Wilson Best and Daisy Henderson as sopranos, Adam Magee as tenor and Steven Faughey as baritone accompanied superbly by Derek Clark on the piano, aim to bring opera to the people of Scotland and beyond and they certainly gave us a tantalising taste of the variety of music in this genre.

The programme opened with the lively Brindisi from Verdi’s La Traviata, followed by selections from Tchaikovsky, Puccini, Gershwin and Mozart including the charming letter duet and a witty account of Man and Wife from the Magic Flute.

Lovely Women, from Don Giovanni, sung by Steven Faughey with beautifully understated humour also gave us an opportunity to hear pianist Derek Clark’s virtuosity. This versatile ensemble took us through every range of emotion in the varied content of the programme, with amusing and engaging commentaries linking each number.

After the interval the quartet sang the folk song Scarborough Fair in a haunting arrangement by Derek. The second half continued in a relaxed mood with excerpts from lighter and more recent works. There was some audience participation in O Sole mio when Adam Magee invited the audience to join in with the words of a certain well-known ice cream advert. Daisy Henderson sang an unforgettable A Word on my Ear by Flanders and Swann. There were many highlights, including a moving performance of Bring Him Home, from Les Miserables and a memorable To keep My Love Alive from Jenny Wilson best.

A combination of solos, duets and the beautifully blended voices of the full ensemble ensured a thoroughly entertaining evening - with even a little dance routine to the Merry Widow Waltz.

An appreciative audience was delighted by Opera Alba’s encore: Gershwin’s Embraceable You, and I Got Rhythm, and went home very satisfied, many of them humming their favourite tunes.

by Christine Job
The Galloway Gazette: Published on Wednesday 12 October 2011

 

"a wonderful performance at Cromarty last night... I hope you will venture north again in the future to give a concert."   Audience member

"Thank you so much for an extraordinary performance on Sunday. The audience thoroughly enjoyed the programme which I must say was a delight.

I thought I wasn't interested in opera, being more involved with traditional music but I was absolutely overwhelmed by the power of your voices in the acoustics of the Stables. All of the pieces you chose to sing were familiar to me but I had never heard them sung live before.

I could feel the tears coming at the Flower Duet and by the time you reached the Pearl fishers, hankies had to come out too. It was so beautiful. You've definitely changed my opinion of opera! And that goes for the other members of staff who had never experienced anything like that before.

So a huge thank you!" Caroline Hewat, Cromarty Arts Trust
Coro Alba at The Stables, Cromarty, 25th September 2011

 

"After seeing and thoroughly enjoying a performance of "Songs from the Musicals" by Opera Alba in Edinburgh, we thought that it would be a superb idea for our friend Brian's surprise 60th birthday.  We were not disappointed.  Opera Alba gave a fantastic performance of popular songs from the musicals, especially Les Miserables which was a particular favourite of his.  EVERYONE thoroughly enjoyed it and Brian said that it had been "the best day of his life." Denise Burgin, Solsgirth House, Dollar

 

"Sunday July 18th, Solsgirth House was my surprise 60th birthday.  I was so sorry I didn't get a chance  to come and say how much I enjoyed your performance.  Opera Alba was a gift to me from everyone at my birthday lunch.  Not only did I think you were so amazing, all my friends did too. Les Miserables, fantastic, brought a tear to my eye. Daisy, thank you so much, it truly was a great day."  Brian Devlin, 60

 

"I am overwhelmed with the amount of cards we have received, thanking us for a lovely day.  In every card Opera Alba have been mentioned and our guests can't praise you enough.  Thanks for making the service extra special.  The Deacon has also contacted me to say it's been the highlight of his diaconate.  Thank you, Daisy, for spending so much of your time helping me decide what music to choose and for all your input over and above what anyone would require.  The service wouldn't have been the same without Opera Alba."
Anne Marie and Stephen Kerr on the occasion of their wedding, 28th May 2010

 

"I contacted Opera Alba after a recommendation as I was looking to put on a West End musical night at Williamwood Golf Club on the 16th of January.  Daisy could not have been more helpful in discussing songs and the running of the evening programme.  I have to say that the evening was a huge success and I would have no hesitation in recommending Opera Alba for an enjoyable entertaining evening."
Alistair Campbell, Event Organiser, Williamwood Golf Club

 

"It was a very happy evening and a most memorable one for us.  As the audience left, everyone said how much they had enjoyed the evening and hoped that we would book (Opera Alba) again.  What more of an accolade could you wish!"
Dot Kemp, Cramond Kirk Music Committee

 

Is there a musical equivalent of a chocoholic? If so, there was a fair gathering of such persons in Greyfriars Church last Friday night, whose sumptuous appetites were well satisfied. The occasion?  Music in Lanark's latest rich concert delights provided by Opera Alba, the operatic quartet of Daisy Henderson, Jenny Wilson Best (sopranos), Adam Magee (tenor) and Steven Faughey (baritone), magnificently accompanied by Derek Clark on piano.

Tasty morsels from the Opera greats were there to be savoured - Mozart, Verdi, Bizet, Puccini and others beside, all presented with polish and panache of the highest order. The varied selection of goodies encompassed passion, sadness, laughter and great amusement (who will forget Flanders & Swann's 'A word on My Ear'). The wonderful flow of the well chosen programme reflected the consummate professionalism of all the performers particularly evident in their beautiful balanced and crisp quartet items. A memorable evening, leaving all musical chocoholics – operaholics? - well and truly satisfied!”

Philip Fox, Lanark and Carluke Choral Union conductor.

 

"Coming so close to St Andrew's Day, it seemed entirely appropriate that Hawick Music Club's Sunday concert should feature Opera Alba. Attracting a large and appreciative audience, the group of four singers, plus accompanist, offered something for everyone. Whether quartets, duets or solos, the presentation was very slick and professional, with repertoire ranging from the sublime to the comical.

At all times the singers were brilliantly supported by Scottish Opera's Head of Music, Derek Clark. And it was good to hear him on his own in some Schubert waltzes, plus the popular 'Farewell to Stromness', giving everyone the opportunity to admire the new Yamaha digital piano, a recent joint purchase between the Club and Tower Mill Theatre. Of vocal highlights there were many; from the mainly operatic first half, the famous duet from Bizet's 'Pearl Fishers' allowed us to enjoy the well blended voices of Alistair Digges and Steven Faughey. The second half featured a lot of folk songs - Kathryn Hannah's 'Blow the Wind Southerly' showed her voice as its best - but Daisy Henderson's 'finest' moment came in the hilarious Flanders and Swann song about the singer who is tone deaf. With the light-hearted 'Teddy Bears' Picnic', the afternoon was brought to an enjoyable close,

The general concensus was: an excellent afternoon's entertainment in an ideal venue. The audience numbers were very encouraging, so let's hope the Club goes from strength to strength".
Jim Letham
Venue - Hawick Music Club - 29/11/09

 

"The style of the evening was fine and the commentary good and appropriate - the performers engage well with their audience."
Linlithgow Music Society

 

"An excellent mix with much to remember..."
For all those looking for a relaxed an light-hearted musical start to the Dundee holiday fortnight, the Tasting Rooms, South Ward Road, last night was the place to be, writes Garry Fraser.

As part of Dundee's Summer Festival, Opera Alba were there to present a mixture of favourites from opera and operetta, sung with a nice informality but with plenty of expertise.

The ensemble, Daisy Henderson (soprano), Jenny Wilson-Best (soprano), John Carlo Bellotti (tenor) and Steven Faughey (baritone) were in fine voice, with admirable backing from pianist Oliver Rundell.

The mix of music was excellent. The opening Brindisi from Verdi's La Traviata was a perfect introduction and the music, some familiar, some not so, flowed on courtesy of Dvorak, Mozart, Bernstein and Puccini, to name but few.

There were many highlights and these included a wonderful Soave sia il Vento from Cosi fan Tutte and the famous quartet from Verdi's Rigoletto.

Any solos were performed with style and skill. but it was the ensemble singing, which Opera Alba are renowned, which gave a small but appreciative audience much to remember.
Garry Fraser writing in the Dundee Courier July 24th, 2006.

 

"Fantastic night at the opera..."
Opera Alba, formed only four months ago, states its aim is "bringing opera to the people of Scotland and beyond".

This it achieves admirably, and much more.

The quartet - tenor John Carlo Bellotti, baritone Steven Faughey and sopranos Daisy Henderson and Heather Stewart (the latter standing in for Jenny Wilson Best) - delivered a fast-moving repertoire.

The evening was off to a lively start with Brindisi from La Traviata, followed by a selection of arias from some of the greatest works of Verdi, Puccini, Mozart and Gounod.

Bellotti gave a rumbustious performance of Questa o quella from Rigoletto.

Another highlight was Faughey teaming up with the sopranos in an enchanting rendition of Soave Sia Il Vento from Cosi fan Tutte.

Altogether, a night at the opera to be remembered.

Jim Strachan writing in the Aberdeen Evening Express, March 14, 2005.

 

Bringing world class singing to the people of Scotland and beyond