Star soprano Angela Gheorghiu joined the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra at The Sheldonian over the weekend to perform some of Verdi’s most dramatic arias, and was absolutely phenomenal.  

She filled The Sheldonian with her astonishing vocal range and power, wringing every ounce of pathos and pain from the music, and delighting her audience with her intensity, warmth and sheer overwhelming talent.  

Angela Gheorghiu. Pic by Neil Gillespie

She also gave an object lesson on how to be fabulous at 56 in a tightly-fitted black velvet dress and a huge, flounced silver and black organza cape before pouring her heart out with a voice that has only become richer and more powerful over the 3+ decades since she made her debut in the Royal Covent Garden opera house.

Oxford Philharmonic © Chris Gloag

Angela Gheorghiu also marked her debut with the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra by dedicating the two arias from Verdi operas she sang to famous composer Vangelis Papathanassiou, who died recently. ‘Tu che le vanity’ from Don Carlo, and ‘Canzone del salice e Ave Maria‘ from Otello were therefore understandably filled with a tangible sense of tragedy and grief.

Angela Gheorghiu by Sasha Gustov

The evening opened with Mozart’s Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, familiar charming and beautifully played.  The rest of the first half was then devoted to the world-premiere of a rich and romantic “Puccini Fantasy for Cello and Orchestra”, written and performed by the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra cellist, and professor at the Royal College of Music, Mats Lidstrom.

And it was wonderful to behold, as the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra introduced this new piece supported by its loyal Oxford fan base, with friendly interchanges between players and audience throughout.  

Angela Gheorghiu Pic by Marius Baragan

Our gratitude has to go the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra for bringing world-class performers and gorgeous music into such exquisite settings – this was Oxford at its musical best. We are lucky to be living here.


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