Review: The Great American Songbook at Howard Assembly Room

An evening celebrating the golden age of American song… what’s not to like? The Great American Songbook is a delight from start to finish, an evening of elegance, class and supreme talent.

Quirijn de Lang not only performs superbly throughout the evening, but has also curated the production. The evening is so much more than a duo performing a selection of classic songs; de Lang has created a beautifully tied-together piece which allows the audience to invest in the performers as characters. Following their journey together is almost as enjoyable as the songs themselves.

American mezzo-soprano Sandra Piques Eddy accomanies Quirjin de Lang throughout. She is a powerful, operatic vocalists yet beautifully finds her feet in a more intimate setting The pair connect with the audience and each other effortlessly, showing that both can bring the house down and draw us into the most intimate of moments.

The Great American Songbook showcases hits such as Let’s Face the Music and Dance and If I Were A Bell, but also offer a range of lesser-known songs which gives us the opportunity to experience something new too.

The small ensemble from the Orchestra of Opera North perform beautifully, conducted by Antony Hermus. The set is also simple yet mighty, which projected images providing an extra dimension. The performers alone would be enough to captivate, but the projection really sets the scene.

Finally, let’s touch on the setting itself: Howard Assembly Room. Having undergone a pretty major transformation, it was an incredible opportunity to check out the renovations. The venue is light, airy and welcoming; everything you’d look for in a creative space. The staff in particular deserve a shout out for their calm yet confident presence, offering help and assistance at all times without being overbearing. In such strange times, opening up a venue post-lockdown is no small feat and yet the whole team have clearly taken it in their stride. A first class venue for first class performances, I can’t wait to return!

Take a look at upcoming performances on the Opera North website.

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