This Welsh National Opera production was fantastic with superb performances by all: Robert Hayward as Mazepa; Gidon Saks as Kochubei; Tatiana Monogarova as Mariya; Jonathan May as Orlik and Luis Rodriguea as Iskra and Philip Lloyd Holtam as a comical drunken Cossack. The stand-outs for me were Hugh Smith as Andrei and Marianna Tarasova as Lyubov – wonderfully emotional performances both. This is not to detract from the others, far from it, simply to acknowledge the best of the best.
The orchestra, conducted by Alexander Polianichko, performed the beautiful music masterfully, while the direction of Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser created a wonderfully accessible performance of this too-little performed opera. Costume, lighting, choreography and a marvellous chorus added to the solo performances, while the admirably restrained design allowed the music and singing to rightly command the audience’s attention. On a baking evening – please, New Theatre, some air conditioning! – the performance was enough to make one forget the heat and the World Cup!