The live audience was ecstatic with thunderous applause for Pinchgut’s magnificent, finely burnished and lushly detailed performance of Monteverdi’s VESPERS. Fortunately you can catch it online at the moment until 1 May, 2021.

Written in 1610, Monteverdi’s VESPERS (Vespro della Beata Vergine ) is now rarely heard. Monteverdi (1567 – 1643) was comfortable with both Baroque and Renaissance music and is regarded as one of the great composers. He wrote music for the church, temporal works and among other things, opera as well. In his Vespers, Monteverdi energetically transformed ‘traditional’ Renaissance polyphony into strikingly advanced styles. 

Musically and vocally the performance was polished, precise and superb, the Orchestra of the Antipodes including some now uncommon Baroque instruments. Hannah Lane  exquisitely played on the harp throughout and there was a theorbo, (Simon Martyn-Ellis ) cornetti (Matthew Manchester and John Foster) and sackbuts (Ros Jorgensen, Nigel Crocker and Brett Page), amongst others.

For this Covid spaced performance Artistic Director Erin Helyard has pared back the number of performers – fourteen members of the Orchestra of the Antipodes (including Helyard himself on organ) and eight singers, one voice for each part. Counter tenor Max Riebl and mezzo Anna Fraser had small featured solos and were intrinsic to the ensemble’s overall  power, in particular in the Magnificat.

Under the direction of Erin Helyard, conducting from and playing the chamber organ, Pinchgut Opera with the Orchestra of the Antipodes, presented a very powerful and moving rendition of the piece, using the 1610 format. While here the work is presented straight through with no interval, the wondrous Magnificat that is the final part of the work is almost a stand-alone piece. Overall it is luscious yet at times bubbling with joy, at other times delicate and cowering with grief. For the singers, solos, duos and trios and ensembles interact with the orchestra, sometimes in a question and response segment (for example, the bright and springy Laudate, leaping and joyous). 

Nigra Sum, with Helyard on organ, was a spectacular, sinuous, lustrous solo for Louis Hurley.

The Pulchra Es is a delicious soprano duet for Chloe Lankshear and Anna Sandström, at times soaring and jumping. 

The Duo Seraphim was a glorious, entwining duet at first for basses David Greco and Andrew O’Connor which became a trio with Louis Hurley .

Nisi Dominus, for the whole ensemble, was brisk and joyous contrasted with slower, and rich segments.

Audi cœlum featured tenor Richard Butler reverently passionate with, an offstage Louis Hurley, subtly mirroring.

The Lauda Jerusalem for singers and orchestra was exuberant.

The Ave Maria for full ensemble was richly textured with a captivating sound. 

Then came a dynamic performance of the Magnificat. The opening featured the soaring soprano of Chloe Lankshear and a sombre but bubbly solo for bass Andrew O’Connor. Quia respexit was rich and reflective leading to the Quia fecit mihi magna with both Orchestra and singers going full throttle. Et misericordia was a sinuous segment for the singers while Fecit potentiam combined passionate strings and voices. Deposuit pulsated exquisitely, with fluttering strings and delicate harp as well as cornetti. Robust strings in the Esurientes made it a sort of question and answer for Orchestra and voices. Lofty voices swell in the Suscepit Israel with Simon Martyn-Ellis on theorbo, and the harp and viola da Gamba also were prominent. Gloria Patri with its shimmering harp entrance featured bass David Greco in a glistening yet longing solo. The Sicut erat in principio vigorously combined Orchestra and singers in an effervescent finale. 

Sat 20 March 2pm | Sun 21 March 5pm

Thursday 25 March 7pm

The performance was dedicated to the memory of Taryn Fiebig.