Die Fledermaus - May 2012

Stunning, Fabulous!

Roderic Dunnett - Opera, July 2012
Kentish Opera at the Stag Theatre, Sevenoaks, May 17

It took only a few minutes for one to sense this was one of Kentish Opera's best productions to date. This intelligent, vigorous and polished company seems to go from strength to strength. This excellently managed production by Terry John Bates delivered riches in every department. The conductor, Robyn Sevastos, is a bundle of fire, who energised the company from a first-rate overture- full of spirited transitions and sensibly judged rubato - through three acts without a hint of flagging. Some strong woodwind contributed handsomely, while there was enough depth in the strings to provide ample support even for the full-blooded chorus.

Prince Orlovsky's ball was a treat, where Enid Strutt's designs, creating a plush atmosphere with dark turquoises and white, paid rich dividends, providing an easily negotiable space. Sally Langford's company was quite unfazed by Fledermaus's many demands, fielding a tremendously inventive, assured cast. Graham Stone's Frank revealed a secure, warm bass and was rich in nuanced comic characterisation. Stefanie Kemball-Read's Adele weighed in with scintillating coloratura and similar comic prowess. Kevin Gauntlett's cross-dressing, slightly over-bizarre Frosch was also well to the fore. Daniel Joy was a chirpy, note-perfect Alfred, and his ensembles with Stephen Brown's mellifluous, wry Eisenstein and Ruth Kerr's full toned Rosalinde were a highlight. The warm-toned Hakan Vramsmo was a suavely manipulative Falke. Kathryn Hannah a hospitable Prince Orlovsky; it was a pity the staging's only error was to place her backstage for her aria, where words got lost and she was swamped by the orchestra.

Gordon Harris, NODA SE, District 5

This production of Die Fledermaus gave us a hilarious libretto with a modern twist, an excellent set, costumes and perfect performances, and of course, once again, a wonderful orchestra conducted by Robyn Sevastos. Die Fledermaus at the Stag Theatre Sevenoaks this week proved to be an entertaining operetta. It engaged me from the very beginning to the very last note. The performances were excellent from all the cast and every actor managed to portray the personal traits of their characters, through their facial nuances, delivery of dialogue, and with the help of their perfectly pitched strong voices made this operetta just perfect.

Stefanie Kemball-Read (Adele) needs mention for her comic portrayal of the maid Adele, she lit up the stage and made me chuckle every time she set foot on stage.

Each act had a different ambience with beautifully costumed leads and chorus, along with the 3 sets executed to a very high standard by Enid Strutt, and strategic lighting by Colin Martin. Director Terry John Bates moved the Kentish Opera's large chorus to a very high professional standard and they looked, as I said before, "stunning", this really does make an operetta stand out from musicals the spectacular voices, grandeur sets and direction. Well done Terry for bringing this all together.

The audience on Friday night applauded enthusiastically and sometimes timely, though some of the humour was lost on them. But my accolade for the evening must go to Kevin Gauntlett (Frosch).Kevin took this small part and made it his own in his camp portrayal of the jailer. Only he had the gall to speak to the audience and talk he did, every facial expression, innuendo, and limp limb movement made a perfect interlude of comic portrayal of otherwise a very small role.. Fabulous!!!!!

Thank you Kentish Opera for a great evening and hope to see you for 'Merrie England' concert.

Pippa Hare, 17 May 2012

All praise to the director Terry John Bates for a slick and thoroughly absorbing production of Kentish Opera's Die Fledermaus. It was an ideal choice to show off Kentish Opera's talents.

The first act was well-balanced and slick and it seemed to pass all too quickly. Stefanie Kemball-Read as Adele showed her feisty side and greatly amused the audience. Ruth Kerr as Rosalinde coped well with her demanding part. Add to these two, Stephen Brown's Eisenstein who has a delightfully tenor voice and Daniel Joy's Alfred who added humour with his Italian 'tit bits' in his overtures to Rosalinde showing off his charming tenor voice.

The Ball scene showed off Enid Strutt's excellent set and costumes. It brought in the full cast with the women all delightfully 'kitted out' in splendid ball gowns and the men resplendent in full evening dress. Haken Vramsmo (Dr Falke) was party to Rosalinde's little trick of disguising herself from Eisenstein. I did find Kathryn Hannah's Prince Orlofsky a little weak and it was impossible to hear her words, possibly because she did not always face the audience whilst singing.

Frank (Graham Stone) has to be the star of the third act, a gentle giant of a prison governor, with humour and a charming bass voice. Frosch (Kevin Gauntlett) played the camp jailer with great aplomb, but possibly went on a little too long.

The conductor, Robyn Sevastos made sure that her orchestra never overpowered the singing but made a very pleasing sound.

Some of the photographs taken at the two dress rehearsals are available here.