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Review Kate Royal and Malcolm Martineau – A Lesson In Love

Multi-award winning soprano comes to Howard Assembly Room with a tragic romance

Review: Kate Royal and Malcolm Martineau – A Lesson In Love

Since graduating from the National Opera Studio in 2004, Kate Royal has gone on to receive a clutch of awards including the Kathleen Ferrier Award in 2004 and the Royal Philharmonic Young Artist Award in 2007 – and it is easy to see why she is so highly rated.

Since graduating, Royal has performed with Glyndebourne Festival Opera, the Royal Opera, ENO, the Paris Opera and at the New York Met. Royal first came to wider attention when she understudied and played the role of Pamina in Glyndebourne’s 2004 production of Die Zauberflöte to critical acclaim, a role she will repeat for the Royal Opera House in February 2011.

For this recital at the Howard Assembly Room she was joined by the celebrated accompanist Malcolm Martineau, and together they performed a programme of songs entitled A Lesson in Love.

The cycle told the story of a young girl in love and was split into several sections entitled ‘Waiting’, ‘The Meeting’, ‘The Wedding’ and ‘Betrayal’ – naturally it doesn’t have a ‘happy’ ending!

The telling of a story rather than the norm of a random collection of songs was an inventive idea and helped to add a sense of drama and structure to the recital, it was also refreshing to see a recital that had been so clearly thought through and well rehearsed.

Royal performed the whole recital from memory (unlike Angelika Kirschlager’s comparatively disappointing recital a few weeks ago), no mean feat considering the songs switched between English, French, German and even Swedish. Royal has a captivating stage presence and performed the cycle in character throughout giving a dramatic reading of the songs, helping to really bring them to life. She possesses a beautiful lyric soprano voice and it is easy to see why she has been so celebrated by those who have been fortunate enough to see her perform in both recital and opera. Accompanist Malcolm Martineau was equally as impressive and the two shared a wonderful rapport. His playing was fantastically dramatic, which worked superbly well with Royal’s heightened performance on stage.

Royal did make a somewhat nervous start – but quickly gained in confidence, and within minutes was at her soaring best. We did both note a slight strain in her voice when singing quietly in the uppermost register of her range, but this being one of the hardest skills in opera we are both sure Royal has plenty of time to improve this area of her singing.

Kate Royal is a notably gifted singer, who actually makes a genuine effort to perform each song with feeling and honesty. Undoubtedly, this is best recital we have seen at the Assembly Room.

Dickie and Butch saw Kate Royal and Malcolm Martineau at the Howard Assembly Room on 21st October Read their blog at www.dickieandbutch.com

Posted on Monday 25th October 2010

Howard Assembly Room

Grand Theatre, 46 New Briggate, Leeds, LS1 6NU

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