The Maestro

Gaetano Donizetti was a composer between 1822-1845, who, despite fame in his lifetime for work such as L'Elisir d'Amore and Lucia di Lammermoor, isn't quite as well known today. Magichour Theatre seeks to change that with The Maestro, a show focusing on Donizetti and the illness that took him in 1848. Through a series of flashbacks, arias and narration we get a feel for what his life was like, as well as his work.

through a series of flashbacks, opera arias and narration, we get a feel of what his life was like, as well as his work.

The beautiful setting of St George's Church in Kemptown lends an atmosphere that is spiritual yet sombre, as the reality of Donizetti's life unfolds. With a minimalist set of only two chairs, a prayer cushion and very subtle costume changes, we are able to focus on the characters. We feel a connection with the three onstage as they recite and react to Donizetti in his early days as he tells his wife about how he grew up in poverty, to how he treats his singers and supporters as his illness worsens. The writing eases this journey, with support from the Donizetti Society, and feels not only respectful to the composer's life, but handles his mental state with sensitivity.

Occasionally it felt as if the multiple characters could have done with a little more definition to keep them distinct from each other physically and vocally from their narrators. However, this does not detract from the quality of performances seen in The Maestro.

Sophie Methuen-Turner plays the long-suffering wife Virginia, who stuck by him through thick and thin, a narrator and the Contessa Mazolla, a financial supporter to Donizetti. Whilst Virginia was portrayed with a loving charm, her Contessa was the highlight - channelling her inner Maggie Smith, she drives the spiralling composer into rethinking his choices in not looking after himself with such control and subtle comedy that it leaves us wanting to see more of her.

Karen Orchin plays mostly singers, including opera star Lina Midello and upcoming star Giuseppina thanks to her beautiful voice. To listen to her is otherworldly - especially when she transitions with ease through her sliding scales to hit the high notes and channels such emotion that her performance is reminiscent of Lesley Garrett and Sarah Brightman.

But it is Robert Tremayne that takes centre stage as he takes on Donizetti himself. A very complex character, which needs the right actor to prevent him from becoming a caricature - of which we saw none of here in Tremayne's performance! It is clear he has taken the time to research the sort of person he's portraying. With a touch of SFX makeup, his eyes sink and his health deteriorates before us as his illness worsens in the second act, mesmerising to watch as he switches from loving husband to obsessive director to womaniser.

The Maestro is a show that is not only suitable for lovers of opera and Donizetti fans, but for those who are new to opera and Donizetti's work.    

Reviews by Sascha Cooper

The Rotunda Theatre: Squeak

Lachlan Werner: Voices Of Evil

★★★★★
The Poets Ale and Smoke House

The Last King of Porn

★★★
Conclave Brighton

Quest With Us!

★★★★
Brighton Unitarian Church

Ode to Joyce

★★★★★
The Rotunda Theatre: Bubble

The Little Prince

★★★★★
St Augustines Centre

Mistress, Maiden, Monster: A Modern Masque

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Magichour Theatre is a spin-off from the parent film company, and its production of 'Whatever Happened to Lyn Roe' won critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Festival. It returns to Brighton Fringe after its success with 'Marilyn the Musical' with this new production dealing with Gaetano Donizetti, a neglected master of Italian opera. 'The Maestro' deals with the triumphs and tragedies of his life, and features live performance by an opera singer of some of his wonderful arias, as well as portraying his life and times. Three performers show his success with works like 'The Elixir of Love' and 'The Daughter of the Regiment'. However, the darker side of his life in which he faced huge personal setbacks and loss led him to tragic works like Anna Bolena and Lucia di Lammermoor. Those who have fallen under his spell will be fascinated by the links between his life and work. Newcomers to his work have the chance to discover a great composer. Performances are in historic and beautiful buildings. The performance on Saturday 28th May at Danny House is in the Grand Hall. The show consists of two acts, each 45 minutes long, and an interval from 6.15-7.15pm where guests are invited to picnic in the grounds. Please note that guests will need to bring their own food and drink, and seating if required. No food and drink will be sold at the venue but there are shops in nearby Hurstpierpoint (5 mins drive). There is free parking available at the venue. No latecomers allowed.

Most Popular See More

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Come From Away

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets