Belfast Telegraph

Glenarm Festival of Voice: Voices full of promise for a very rich future

By Terry Blain

Belfast-born soprano Sinéad O'Kelly won last year's NI Opera Festival of Voice, and returned to launch this year's competition at St Patrick's Church of Ireland in Glenarm yesterday evening.

She shared the platform with John Porter, the Donegal tenor who made an impression as a contestant at the inaugural festival in 2011.

O'Kelly's opening group of Italian-language selections revealed a technique rooted in a solid chest voice. In Mozart's Come scoglio, O'Kelly's ability to span wide intervals, without the scooping lesser singers resort to, made a marked impression.

Porter's lower voice is fuller now than in 2011. His is essentially a lyric tenor, and his style of delivery was sensitively applied in arias from Thomas's Mignon and Tchaikovsky.

The combination of the two singers in a punchy, playful rendition of a duet from Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore was a highlight.

Part two brought Lieder, inaffectionately phrased accounts of two songs by Richard Strauss from Porter, and a pair of heart-aching French melodies by Hahn and Poulenc, feelingly dispatched by O'Kelly. A second duet, from Gounod's Mireille, capped the programme.

Porter's tuning wasn't always impeccable, and in the fullness of time O'Kelly will cultivate more dynamic range in her singing. But both these young Irish voices showed rich promise for the future.

Four stars

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