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  • Chris O'Rourke

Mezzo Masterpieces #3 Paula Murrihy

Mezzo-Soprano Paula Murrihy. Image from stream.

Mozart is certainly Irish National Opera's flavour of December. Following on from INO's concert performance of his German language opera The Abduction from the Seraglio, INO conclude their Mezzo Masterpieces series with an Italian selection from Mozart sung by renowned Mezzo-soprano Paula Murrihy. Once again the Office of Public Works provide another truly sumptuous setting, the iconic Kilkenny Castle, whose Picture Gallery is illuminated to perfection by Kevin Smith. Hosted by Fergus Shiel, whose soft spoken passion always leaves you eager to listen, Mezzo Masterpieces #3 makes it three for three for INO delivering another memorable evening of music and singing.

Performing the overture to Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito Peter Whelan, conducting the Irish National Opera Orchestra, gets things off to a lively start. The arrival of Murrihy to sing Parto, parto, ma tiu ben mio, accompanied superbly by Conor Shiel on clarinet, transforms the room, the evening and the experience into something wholly other. Like playful, comic melodramas, many of Mozart's Italian operas plumb the emotional depths while also scaling comedic heights, living life loud and large and with near impossible vivacity. Something Murrihy captures sublimely with a series of stunning and invested performances, marrying a vocabulary of vivid visual expressions to her outstanding voice. Featuring an awful lot of trouser roles, Murrihy sings extracts from Così Fan Tutte, Le Nozze Di Figaro, Idomeno, and Don Giovanni, revelling as a consummate storyteller. Baritone, Seán Boylan, impressively singing Hai già vinta la causa from Le Nozze Di Figaro, and Fin ch'han dal vino from Don Giovanni, also delivers two physically invested performances.

If all the world's a stage, Murrihy can create worlds and characters onstage with just a look, a smile, or by merely arching an eyebrow. Creating a story telling experience in which gestural mannerisms enrich her memorable singing, making for an intimate, almost immersive experience.

Since the unwelcome arrival of Covid, INO have worked tirelessly to deliver quality opera experiences during 2020. Despite the rapid approach of the year's end, INO are not quite finished yet. With arguably their most innovative production so far 20 Shots of Opera will feature twenty newly commissioned short operas by twenty composers. In keeping with the spirit of the season, 20 Shots of Opera can be streamed free from December 17.

Mezzo Masterpieces #3 featuring Mezzo-soprano Paula Murrihy performing a selection from Mozart, was live streamed from The Picture Gallery, Kilkenny Castle on December 10 and is available online until December 23.

20 Shots of Opera, featuring twenty newly commissioned short operas by twenty composers can be streamed for free from December 17.

For more information visit Irish National Opera.

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