Oct 1, 2013

Crepes & Opera: review of Christiana Aloneftis

Performed: 28th September 2013

In the tiny Open Studio café in Northcote (Melbourne) several classical artists were invited to perform. The café seemed an odd place to hold such a recital – old-time carnivale-themed wall murals of strong-men and a menu only serving crepes – yet the venue’s surrealness was outdone by the superb performance of Christiana Aloneftis (Greek Orthodox).

With much talent on offer (including a ukulele band!) it was the transcending voice of Christiana that stood out. On the minuscule stage, less than a metre from the audience, Christiana gave a performance that was extremely intimate, yet it could be felt all the way to the courtyard. Within the ambience of candlelight the audience was engrossed in a true operatic experience. Having just recently sang at the Saarburg International Summer School and Festival in Germany, Christiana gave nothing less than an outstanding performance in this humble, yet quirky café.

Christiana performed three Greek songs in the classical operatic tradition, giving the works a new expression. Although she sung in both Greek and Italian, Christiana beautifully ‘expressed’ each song’s story and meaning to the audience. With the upmost control she provided a precise and engaging performance. Christiana communicated the emotions of disillusioned love, melancholy, despair and even ancient naval imagery of the late Greek-Melbournian poet, Nikos Kavvadias.

So much was the audience transfixed by Christiana that the people protested upon the event organiser’s decision to move onto the next act due to falling behind schedule. To the audience’s relief, Christiana was allowed to sing one more song. Even a complete stranger turned to me and whispered, ‘What an amazing voice’. I even saw a lady in front of me wiping away tears.

She was accompanied by pianist Peter Toohey, a close friend and high-skilled musician in his own right, who’s on a full-scholarship studying Masters at The University of Melbourne. An intuitive accompanist he helped make Christiana’s performance a very moving experience.

Despite just returning from London, where she had the unique opportunity to sing at Wigmore Hall as a finalist for The Australian Music Foundation Grants, Christiana Aloneftis is again preparing for another recital. She will be performing at the Diamond Creek Concert Series in late-October. Details will be posted on OFA blog soon.

Reviewed by Chris Vlahonasios

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