“Immense authority”: Alan Opie in Delius’ A Mass for Life

11 June 2012

Critics have been praising Alan Opie’s “immense authority and his impressive range” (Gramophone) as the baritone soloist in Delius’ A Mass for Life, a recording released by Naxos. Awarded five stars in The Telegraph, and “pick of the week” in The Sunday Times, the CD by Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, The Bach Choir and David Hill, celebrates 150 years since the composer’s birth.

Singing what is effectively the role of Zarathustra, Alan Opie is described by William Hedley as “magnificent”: “Any performance of A Mass of Life stands or falls by its soloists, and in particular the baritone, who embodies Zarathustra and thus Nietzsche himself. The name Alan Opie is a guarantee of quality, and so turns out to be. His assumption of the role is calm and sober, though not at all lacking in passion, and with great nobility of utterance when required. He is on top vocal form in this taxing music, with even a certain tenor-like quality…and a ringing top G minutes before the close. He is very impressive indeed in the soliloquies near the beginning of Part 2, and without a hint of excess, even managing to minimize the occasional hint of bombast in the music; this admirable singer convinces more than any of his rivals”. (International Record Review)

Similarly, Jeremy Dibble in Gramophone describes Opie as “almost Wotan-like in his performances. From his first Nietzschean dance he is majestic and brings out of the score that vibrant, heady, Teutonic contemporaneity with which Delius had clearly become enthralled at this point in his career.” Stephen Pritchard also describes Opie’s performance as “majestic…in magnificent form” (The Observer), whilst Hugh Canning in The Sunday Times writes that amongst “outstanding” soloists, “the star is Alan Opie, whose lyrical singing is wonderful”.

This month Alan Opie sings the title role in Opera Holland Park’s Gianni Schicchi.

Listen to Alan Opie sing “Wehe mir!” from the first part of Delius’ A Mass for Life.

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