Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
Operas 2010 - 2017
. Semele (2017)
. co-production with Mid Wales Opera . Richard Burton Theatre, Cardiff and Wales Tour
conductor . Nicholas Cleobury associate director . Jennifer Fletcher design . Grace Venning lx . Samuel Smith
Photographer .Matthew Williams-Ellis
Director Martin Constantine brings the supposedly archaic into sharp contemporary focus; in an invigorating - sometimes quirkily comic - cautionary tale for the social media age.
A joyful affair. The director Martin Constantine makes modern-day sense of the mythological libretto, with smartphones and selfies - it is wittily handled. Semele and Jupiter embark on loved-up millennial hipster life; he owns a contemporary art gallery and woos her with neon-light installations and takeaway coffee (Oh, the romance!) and the humour continues right to the end.
A witty and intelligent production finds contemporary relevance in Semele. Here, gratifyingly, was a production which didn’t ignore such universal kinds of relevance, but which also, without any sense of strain or special pleading, located and articulated a very specific and powerful kind of contemporary relevance in Handel’s opera/oratorio Semele. The power of Martin Constantine’s production is that it shows Semele not as unique in her ‘vanity’, but as a young woman who is, rather, an emblem of her society. Constantine sets the opera now, very much amongst a generation fully committed to (some would say obsessed by) modern social media. There is a delightfully witty, climactic statement of this theme in the staging of the closing moments of the opera.
SCENE AND HEAD INTERNATIONAL
This co-production of Semele with the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama fizzes with energy. Director Martin Constantine’s long track record of working with young singers includes several past productions at the RWCMD, and it was evident from this performance how much he enables the singers to own the stage with confidence and aplomb. This is not a student show; it is a fully professional one in which young people who are the future of opera in Wales and beyond are showing their mettle.
WALES ARTS REVIEW
. Falstaff (2016)
. Sherman Theatre
conductor . Carlo Rizzi set design . Maria Kalamara costume design . Atena Pou Clavell lx . Alia Stephen movement . Jem Treays
assistant director . Lucy Mellors photography . Kirsten McTernan
I cannot remember seeing conductor Carlo Rizzi smiling so much when taking a curtain call as at the end of this marvellously witty, charming and musically accomplished Falstaff. This production of Verdi’s final opera is fun from beginning to end and had the audience laughing out loud with its larger than life characters, including of course the portly knight, and the setting in the 1980s worked splendidly. The updating and the use of jolly video of moving clouds and digital numbers to show the passing of time during the narrative, gave the production an instant appeal and allowed for relatively contemporary references (massage tables, exercise bikes, palates balls, dodgy outfits, cocktails, skate boards etc.) to bring in the nicely young audience. Director Martin Constantine kept the action flowing at a perfect pace, knowing just how to keep his talented young cast continuously acting. A highly entertaining and engaging evening full of quality and commitment.
ARTS SCENE IN WALES
. Le Nozze di Figaro (2016)
. Dora Stoutzker
conductor . David Jones design . Nate Gibson lx . Elanor Higgins movement . Tori Johns assistant director . Charles Eliasch
photography . Robert Workman
. Albert Herring (2015)
conductor . David Jones design . Gabriella Slade lx . Hristo Takov assistant director . Jennifer Adams photography . Kirsten McTernan
a success - conveyed the spirit of Britten’s opera with serious conviction and a great deal of humour.
SCENE AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL
The young soloists from the Royal Welsh College, directed by Martin Constantine, gave a highly polished and engaging account of the complex score with Dawn Burns a wonderfully stern Florence Pike, Letitia Perry excellent as she delivered a hilariously tedious singing lesson and Emyr Wyn Jones in fine voice as Sid.
SOUTH WALES ARGUS
. Cosi Fan Tutte (2015)
conductor . David Jones design . Gabriella Slade lx . Ben Stimpson photography . Kirsten McTernan
Not for the first time this year I have found a show away from the big opera houses that is far more enjoyable. Director Martin Constantine has demonstrated an imaginative approach does not have to cost a fortune, destroy the meaning of the opera and challenge the good will of the audience.this was a delightful summer’s evening.
. The Magic Flute (2014)
. Sherman Theatre
conductor . David Jones design . April Dalton with Lizzie Cox lx . Daniel Sawyer movement . Jem Treays assistant director . Debs Cohen
photography . Kirsten McTernan
Discard any ideas that this is another student production – rather this is a conceptually stimulating, musically engaging and thoroughly entertaining Magic Flute that would knock the stuffing out of many takes on Mozart’s final opera. We were promised an imaginative and innovative new interpretation from director Martin Constantine and we were not disappointed. It is brimming with ideas, balancing charming and chilling scenes, images and characterisations from a cast that gives us plenty of radiant and polished performances in a totally committed ensemble cast. If you have an appetite for fresh voices with exuberance, a talented orchestra and a show that could grace the stage of any of our operas houses get yourself a ticket. There is plenty in this production to delight and to intrigue in equal measure, but it is not all frivolous fantasy. Light might win the day but in this production the darkness never really goes away.
It's a fair bet that the composer would have been equally pleased by this innovative, funny and imaginative interpretation of his two-act opera by the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Impressively staged and beautifully sung and acted, this English language production mixed the light and frothy with the challenging and serious to give us a satisfying and entertaining evening. Director Martin Constantine brought his considerable experience to bear and drew the threads together in a convincing, stimulating and entertaining way. Constantine is director of ENO Opera Works, English National Opera's training course for young opera singers and certainly drew the best out of the young singers in this production.
. Flight (2013)
conductor . David Jones associate directors . Jem Treays design . Amy Hudson lx . Ben Stimpson photography . Kirsten McTernan
These performers certainly demonstrated their acting as well as their singing skills to the full. Flight has received many plaudits for its accessibility in the often alienating world of contemporary opera, and quite rightly on the strength of this production. It was a joy to see and hear, and judging by the expressions on the faces of the cast at the end of the show, a joy for them to perform as well.
WALES ARTS REVIEW
. Die Fledermaus (2011)
conductor . David Jones associate directors . Jem Treays / Eric Roberts set design . Christine Urquhart costume design . Lisa Leighton lx . Jack Ramplin photography . Kirsten McTernan
. Britten's Women (2010)
co-production with Bath International Festival (2013)
conductor .David Jones design . Jo Lakin costume design . Emma Jones lx . Jamie Spirito photography . Kirsten McTernan