A matinee Opera concert is a nice idea. A group of young opera singers put together a group called Óp-hópurinn, performing monthly in collaboration with the Icelandic Opera, to kick off their careers. Also a nice idea. You can even buy sandwiches to munch on while the talent sings its collective heart out. Which is an even nicer idea.
I started out writing this article in the usual vein of these “I’m no expert columns,” describing every performance in the best possible way with my limited knowledge of the art itself. This particular concert made it hard though; there were eight singers singing as many pieces—short songs from various famous operas. As a result, the whole thing felt like a conveyor belt of acts that nobody got the chance to enjoy or digest before the next one started.
There were, however, some highlights or personal favourites, if you will. For instance, Rósalind Gísladóttir’s delivery of Mein Herr Marquis from the Bat by Strauss. Maybe it was because the lyrics were in Icelandic for a change, I don’t know, but I did feel her demeanour and delivery was natural and engaging, making it was a true pleasure to experience. Looking around, I saw I was not alone in this opinion, as the audience gleefully applauded. I like her.
Although she was good, it was a baritone named Jón Svavar Jósefsson who owned the rest. He was the first on stage, sporting a clown nose, in the character of Tonio in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, and later on the bill he sang part of a duet from the same opera with Bylgja Dís Gunnarsdóttir. His performance is a perfect mixture of a powerful voice and a convincing stage presence. And by ‘convincing’, I mean that if I’d have a conversation with him during which time he would carry his side with operatic singing and grand gestures I wouldn’t even feel weird about it. I know, I know, I’m not an expert, but this guy is a natural.
Despite the concert’s shortcomings (i.e. cramming eight performances into 45 minutes), I’d go again. It’s an inexpensive lunch hour with a light meal and nice singing. It really can’t go wrong, or shouldn’t.
It’s one of those times you realise that less really is more.