Filling Firth Court with her rich, passionate and versatile voice, Elizabeth Watts produced an evening of late Baroque decadence which was both breathtaking and beautiful.
Presenting a programme of Alessandro Scarlatti and George Friedrich Handel, the concert was a perfect balance of melancholic cantatas, virtuosic harpsichord suites and feisty opera arias and recitatives.
Having studied Archaeology at the University of Sheffield herself, Watts looked comfortable and confident returning to the University and was greeted with excitement by a fully attended audience.
The concert was well rounded and arranged into a balanced mixture of performance, contextual information, explanations of baroque harmony and the odd quirky story.
Watts particularly flourished in the energetic and spirited Tigrane arias, where her acting of the text was at its best.
What was especially outstanding was Watts’ breath control, which seemed boundless, especially in Handel’s Semele aria “O sleep.”
Placing the sound expertly on the mask of her face, Watts was able to create a resonance that seemed to come from outside of her and was thoroughly spine tingling.
Her runs were also fluid, well connected and accurate.
Credit must also be given to the seamless and masterful Laurence Cummings, who accompanied Watts delicately and professionally.
During his solo harpsichord suites and cantatas, Cummings maintained the interest of the audience by giving expression to the left-hand melodies, highlighting the bass perfectly with complementary flourishes in the treble.
The evening was insightful, engaging and entirely entertaining. the University of Sheffield was privileged to be host to such beauty and professionalism in music.