A bass baritone currently working with Opera Queensland Robert has appeared in opera productions and concerts in Australia and throughout the United Kingdom. He has also toured in England, Germany, Belgium and Greece with the academy of St Martin in the Fields under the direction of the late Sir Neville Marriner. This vast experience shone through from first scene of the opening night of the musical at the Armitage Centre on Thursday 7 June as he went through the difficulties of being a poor Jewish milkman with five daughters.
With the Fiddler above them Tevye, Yente, Avram, Nazum, Lazer Wolf, Mendel the Rabbi and ensemble quickly launched into Tradition. Although the area was relatively restricted more than 50 players – my count varied – were on stage as Robert’s voice and ease of movement soon captivated the capacity audience. As act one progressed Robert, with Hodel, Chava, Shprintze and Bielka, followed up with Matchmaker and then a resounding solo of If I Were a Rich Man. Further along it is the turn to shine of James Taylor playing Motel, the tailor and suitor of Anna Roche-Kelly’s Tzeitzel.
The rendition Miracles of Miracles by James, when Tevye reluctantly agrees to their marrying, was faultlessly executed. This led into a brilliant scene where Tevye “dreams” that his wife Golde’s grandmother rises from the grave to bless the marriage rather than one to Lazar Wolf, who is played skilfully by Richard Chiverrell. Vicki Bravery, whose voice makes for easy listening, portrays Golde perfectly. She is totally believable as the nagging, shrewish wife who in act two is able to mellow in a beautiful duet of Do You Love Me? with Tevye.
Tevye, Golde, Yente, Lazar, Mendel, Avram and ensemble reminisce about earlier times as they are forced by authorative constable, Neal Bravery, from their life in the Russian shtetl of Anatevka in a totally convincing final scene. Obviously much of the credit for the success of Fiddler is due to production chair Rebecca Cherry director/designer Mary Quade, vocal coach Elizabeth Egan, costume designer Debra Nairn and musical director Morgan Chalmers, who is highly entertaining to watch conducting. The end result is another example of why Toowoomba can be regarded as a “jewel in the crown” of Queensland’s artistic activities.
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