Voice of a nightingale comes to a fitting stage

ABBEY ARIA: American soprano Isabel Gray sangs works by Purcell, Verdi, Mendelssohn and Dvorak at Crowland Abbey.
ABBEY ARIA: American soprano Isabel Gray sangs works by Purcell, Verdi, Mendelssohn and Dvorak at Crowland Abbey.
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The temptation of missing out on a musical experience provided by American soprano Isabel Gray at the perfect setting of Crowland Abbey was impossible to resist.

Yet if it had not have been for a full preview last Thursday in our sister newspaper, the Peterborough Telegraph, this reviewer would have missed it.

A brilliant initiative to exploit Crowland Abbey as a place for artistic and cultural expression was the ideal excuse to invite Isabel, who has performed with world-famous conductors such as Andre Previn, Sir Bernard Haitink and Zubin Mehta, to sing in the South Holland border town on Saturday night.

Isabel’s repertoire for her knowledgeable audience included Mendelssohn’s Salve Regina, Barber’s Sure on the Shining Night, I Will Sing New Songs of Gladness by Dvorak and Desdemona’s Aria by Verdi’s Otello, based on the play by Shakespeare.

But pride of place went to Isabel’s skilful handling of Ave Maria, the intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni made famous by the Oscar-winning film Raging Bull.

It’s safe to say neither the soprano, nor her audience, will forget Crowland Abbey in a hurry.

Review by Winston Brown