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Milly Forrest

by on 26 February 2021

Expressive and Charming

Milly Forrest

Opera Live At Home, On-line from 23rd February

Review by Claire Alexander

All live arts have been catastrophically hit by the enforced closure over almost a year now – not just depriving performers with their livelihoods and ability to share their talents, but audiences too of their passions and imaginations.   I for one have particularly missed the spontaneity of live music.  I admire how all creative artists have maintained their motivation, and practice during these troubled times.  I have seen many many ways in which groups of artists have come together in innovative and inspiring ways to support each other and continue to entertain.

Opera Live at Home is no exception to this ingenuity.   We were treated to an hour of arias by emerging soprano Milly Forrest, accompanied sympathetically by Ian Tindale on piano.   She was singing from St Michaels and All Angels church in Chiswick – a church I know and blessed with great acoustics, broadcast on Zoom to a dedicated and appreciative audience.   The evening’s compère was Helen Astrid, founder of Opera Live at Home

Milly gave us a variety of arias, some old and familiar and some newer to her repertoire.  What better opportunity to ‘try out’ a new work.   She started with a confident performance of Wo bin ich, wach ich from Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, demonstrating a beautiful sonority to her middle range, which was evident throughout the later performances too.   She followed this with non disperar chi sa from Handel’s Giulio Cesare; and tornami a vagheggiar – Morgana’s aria, from Alcina, by Handel.    Personally I wanted a bit more depth to both of these arias, especially the Alcina, but as Milly herself says her voice is maturing and she has time to grow into these.  For me the standout performance of the evening was Lullaby – Vendulka’s aria, from Smetana’s The Kiss, to which she brought a real, truthful and contemplative mood.    She followed this with the more well-known Crudele? Non mi dir – Donna Anna’s recitative and aria from Don Giovanni (Mozart).  She finished this delightful evening by bringing a real sense of fun to the Frère, voyez le beau bouquet!  – Sophie’s aria from Massenet’s Werther.

We should not of course forget that such a musical evening would not be possible without the accomplished and sympathetic accompaniment of Ian Tindale.  I was struck by the fact that Milly said at the Q and A session following the performance that they had not had the opportunity to rehearse several of these works ‘live’ prior to the performance – brava-bravo to them both for developing such a clear understanding rapport so swiftly.

Indeed one of the special attractions of this ‘new’ order is that we are able to enjoy a Q and A from both Ian and Milly after the performance – a unique opportunity to share the experience and cross the divide between audience and performer in a way that we would have never previously experienced.  This is truly valuable to both and ‘normalises’ the experience of performance so much.  The performers must get valuable feedback, and it certainly introduced me to some of the concepts of putting together a programme like this, such as the importance of ensuring the predominant keys of adjoining works do not clash.

It was a joy to hear live singing again.  It seemed to me that Milly has fantastic potential.  She genuinely captured the mood in her performances, with a really expressive and charming rendition.  Her performances were clear, detailed and relaxed – not easy to achieve at all singing in an empty church to a camera!

I will certainly seek Milly out when we finally get back to what we all love.  And I will seek out future evenings of Opera Live at Home too.  What a gem!   

 Claire Alexander, February 2021

Photography Brian Tupper and Opera Live at Home

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