Standard Digital Edition

Flood of supremely good music in unearthed opera is just the tonic for these Covid times

Barry Millington


L’Amico Fritz

Opera Holland Park, W11


RATHER as Chekhov stipulated that a rifle on the wall in the first act should signify a firing of that rifle in a succeeding act, so the wager of the bachelor Fritz in Mascagni’s opera that he will never marry can only have one outcome. The lack of dramatic tension in L’Amico Fritz is only one of its dramaturgical flaws but one can easily forgive the composer of the much better known sanguineous shocker Cavalleria Rusticana given the supreme quality of the music, which pours forth in a lyrical flood from the beginning of the action and rarely lets up. OHP has a tradition of unearthing little-known Italian verismo operas and L’Amico Fritz is another triumph.

As Fritz himself, Matteo Lippi scaled the vocal heights with effortless, impassioned tone. The part of his eventual bride, Suzel, was taken by the equally accomplished Katie Bird, pictured. Paul Carey Jones was imposing as the match-making rabbi, David. Kezia Bienek was the excellent Beppe.

Julia Burbach’s imaginative production makes full use of the slopes that encircle the orchestral musicians.

Making her London debut, conductor Beatrice Venezi scores a big success in a reading that is both assured and sensitive to the score’s many nuances. If you’ve been feeling out of sorts in these Covid times, Friend Fritz may have just the tonic for you.

⬤ Until July 31;, 0300 999 1000





Evening Standard Limited