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Friday, November 4, 2011


(Michelle Breedt)

Outstanding South African mezzo-soprano brings KZNPO spring season to a joyful close. (Review by Michael Green)

An evening of operatic music brought the eight-concert spring season of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra to a joyful close in the Durban City Hall.

The orchestra players were in fine fettle, and the occasion was adorned by an outstanding South African mezzo-soprano, Michelle Breedt, an outstanding Dutch conductor, Arjan Tien, and an impressively large chorus of 100 voices from the Durban Symphonic Choir (formed in 1966) and SA Singers (formed in 1999).

The audience, boosted I think by the friends and family of the choristers, was the biggest of the season.

Michelle Breedt was born in Johannesburg, went to school in Pietermaritzburg, and graduated at Stellenbosch. She has been based in Germany for the past 20 years. She is an exceptionally versatile singer and has appeared in Europe (Vienna, Paris, Hamburg, Dresden, etc) in operas by Mozart, Berlioz, Gounod, Massenet, Verdi and Richard Strauss, and she has sung in productions of Wagner at Bayreuth.

Her versatility and the quality of her voice and personality were vividly displayed in this Durban concert. She has a powerful yet lyrical mezzo, and in a programme ranging from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro to Lehar’s Merry Widow, she showed a dominant yet sympathetic stage presence.

The Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen was delightful, the singer’s movements on stage giving ample evidence of her operatic background. And the big dramatic aria O don fatale from Verdi’s Don Carlos was one of the high points of the evening.

The big choir added greatly to the enjoyment of the evening, and Arjan Tien, conducting the third concert of his visit to Durban, was his usual commanding self.

I think that many people in the audience had seldom been to an orchestral concert before. This must have been a painless introduction to classical music, and one hopes that some of them will return in the future. - Michael Green