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July 07, 2017

REVIEW: Spellbound by The Magic Flute

Dr. Helmer Hilwig’s minimalist direction of this abridged version of the Mozart’s opera, was both accessible and thoroughly delightful. The decision to perform unamplified lent a very organic and authentic feel to the whole affair. Under the baton of June Nathaniel, the musical accompaniment; a simple trifecta of a piano, a flute (of course), and percussion, was wonderful, feeling as alive and real as the people on stage.

July 30, 2017

REVIEW: Picoplat makes opera magic

Short and sweet, like the run of the festival itself, was the Picoplat Young Artist Collective’s abridged production of Mozart’s timeless opera. The music of The Magic Flute is known for including some of the highest and lowest notes in the soprano and bass repertoire, respectively. This could make casting a challenge but, with our proud pool of local operatic talent, Picoplat made it happen. Natalia Dopwell, as the Queen, appeared on stage as a force of energy, rendering the role with all the requisite rage of a villain and the grace of a monarch to temper it. Shellon Antoine as Sarastro, antithesis to the Queen, was a serene presence whose arias– unlike the fast-paced, agitated rhythms of the Queen’s pieces–offer a reverent, hymn-like calm. Antoine’s rumbling bass caressed the lowest notes of his pieces with graceful ease and clarity.

July 11, 2016

REVIEW: Tales of Hoffmann

Dike Ramdeen for Faithful Mirror - July 2015

This year's show was a terrific success.  From the instrumental accompaniment to the actors' performances to the stage decorations, all facets of the production were meticulously crafted and drilled so as to ensure audience members were transported to 19th century Italy.  The actors sang each song with a feeling and drama that made it hard not to sympathize with the confused Hoffman.  The complexity of the themes explored during the play also kept audience members hooked, as each of Hoffman's relationships represented different types of love.

July 11, 2016

REVIEW: Love Trancends and Transforms into Art

Timothy Millington for Break the Proscenium - Tales of Hoffmann Review - July 2016
Does the Prince Charming always win the heart of the doe-eyed maiden and live happily ever after? Not always. On Friday July 8, 2016 at Queen’s Hall, I had the pleasure of experiencing Picoplat Music Development Foundation’s production of “Tales of Hoffmann”, a scintillating romance that chronicles the woes of love and loss experienced by the Opera’s protagonist, Hoffmann, played by Raguel Gabriel. I expected nothing short of phenomenal music and singing. Aside from a few tentative moments by the chorus in the Prologue, which I could easily chalk up to jitters, my expectations were met.

July 11, 2016

REVIEW: Love, good music reign at Hoffmann

Tevin Gall for Trinidad & Tobago Newsday - Tales of Hoffmann Review - July 2016

The 2016 Opera Festival got off to an excellent start with a production of Jacques Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann that was at once, a vocal and comedic delight. A team of young vocalists took to the stage under the dramatic direction of CMDFTT musical director, June Nathaniel and veteran stage director, Dr Helmer Hilwig. The duo, once again, pulled off an operatic triumph, producing a strong chorus that was both theatrically and musically sound while the accompaniment, prominently featuring US-based pianist, Dr Jefferey Middleton was shaped by Nathaniel’s expert direction. 

June 22, 2015

REVIEW: Cosi Fan Tutte – “Women are like that” or aren’t they?

"The cast was absolutely phenomenal vocally and able to engulf the auditorium with their melodious, operatic voices. I was not surprised at all and they surpassed my expectations. Dopwell’s adaptability, Pollonais’ sensitivity, Nahous’ versatility, DeCranie-Pierre’s comedic timing, Welch’s enormous presence and Godoy-Gutierrez’s vulnerability makes this a captivating, must see production. I was engrossed from beginning to end and wanted more." Timothy Millington for Break the Proscenium

June 26, 2015

REVIEW: Everybody does it

"Individually and collectively, experience and nascent talent presented a local audience with the rare opportunity of experiencing one of operas classics." Simon Lee for the Guardian

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