REVIEW: Opus Orchestra – Midwinter Tales (Rotorua, July 2018)

What:  Opus Orchestra

When: Sunday 29 July 2018

Where: Destiny Church Theatre, Rotorua

Opus’s conductor, Peter Walls, splendidly assembled a programme, narrator and scripts for ‘Midwinter Tales’, a fine entertainment of words and music to appeal to the young and not so young.  Spirited playing by the orchestra and some informal touches made a wonderful introduction to symphony concerts for those unfamiliar with these.

As a story teller, Mark Hadlow engaged magnificently with the audience through his resilient voice and broad acting skills.  Prokofiev’s classic ‘Peter and the Wolf’ is the story of a boy who captures a wolf which threatens his pet animals.  Both the individual instruments and narrator brought the characters and their actions to life by painting them in striking colours.  Margaret Mahy’s ‘A Lion in the Meadow’ is a favourite book for children, blending fantasy and reality, and this was vividly complemented by Philip Norman’s imaginative music.    The score for Pulcinella, the story of an impish Italian hero, was adapted Stravinsky from Baroque music for a ballet and a suite, enlivened with modern instruments.  Mark Hadlow added to the suite with plenty of the sparkle and wit in David Groves’s script which accompanies the music.

Mozart was the master of writing sprightly and elegant dance music, and these interspersed through the concert were an appealing spice.

Hanno Fairburn

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