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French soloists made good on debut showing in Jamaica

Published:Friday | March 20, 2015 | 12:00 AM
French soprano Christina Collier performing at Hanover Grange Villa at the Tryall Club in Hanover last Tuesday night
Christina Collier and Gilles San Juan enjoying every minute of their masterful performance during 'Opera Opulence' at Hanover Grange Villa at the Tryall Club last Tuesday night.
French soprano, Christina Collier, and tenor, Gilles San Juan, had absolute fun performing to an intimate group of opera lovers at 'Opera Opulence' at Theresa and Andrew Roberts' Hanover Grange Villa at Tryall Club last Tuesday night
Theresa and Andrew Roberts, hosts of Opera Opulence at their Hanover Grange Villa at the Tryall Club in Hanover.

They met in a show tagged 'A Night in Broadway' in 2003 and have since been inseparable.

French soprano Christina Collier and tenor Gilles San Juan made their Jamaican debut to an opera-hungry, salivating, intimate group of music lovers last Tuesday at socialites Theresa and Andrew Roberts' fabulous Hanover Grange villa at Tryall Club, Hanover.

The soloists had guests at the acoustic-rich villa in awe as they opened their larynx, performed theatrics, and fed classical music in what the Robertses titled 'Opera Opulence'. From the setting to the dress code, there was a certain lavishness and magnificence that stared you directly in the face, making no apologies that if you didn't belong, you would have felt out of place.

Indeed, it was an evening punctuated by affluence, depicting wealth of another nature, and differentiation of two multi-talented performers who succeeded in showing the diversity that makes Jamaica special.

Their trip to Jamaica was well orchestrated, Theresa Roberts tells The Sunday Gleaner, having won the maestros at an auction in London. "It never mattered the price they were being auctioned at, I said, 'I am taking these people to Jamaica'," she said.

For her, watching them in action on her balcony, giving the performance of their lives, was proof they were singing from their hearts.

Originally from Black River in St Elizabeth, this the second year the British-based woman and her English husband have opened up their home to introduce first world, first-class entertainment to their Jamaican friends. Roberts has earned the reputation of ambassador at large in Europe because she has no reservations about flying the country's flag high.

Obviously well thought out, she and her husband must have known that bringing Collier and San Juan from France to perform in Jamaica would have been a winning combination, and the two veterans did not disappoint. Their voices were perfectly in tune.

"Jamaica gets such a bad rap as a result of negative publicity in the UK and Europe, and I am bent on making the difference," Roberts said, adding that she wants to show others how beautiful her country is.




It is Roberts' love for opera and the fact that she knows that many persons would never be able to afford such an experience that she decided to bring home two top-class musicians.

"Opera is such an expensive thing. It has a large price tag to it," she added.

The Robertses actually picked two winners, as Collier and San Juan, easily earning the spot as the ideal combination, delivering a scintillating performance which saw them doing jazz, Gatsby, salon music, and their own rendition of Adele's Rolling in the Deep opera-style.

"It's the first time an opera singer has done Rolling in the Deep," they boasted after, having won over the discerning audience that sat transfixed in the lower foyer of the Roberts' vacation villa.

Both of them brought a lot of comedy to their presentation, particularly when they did Slaves Chorus, from Nabucco (Verdi), one of the most popular Italian operas.

When San Juan pulled from the repertoire La Donna E Mobile, from the opera Rigoletto by Verdi, he literally had the audience drinking in his every word.

Collier did an old favourite, Summertime, and confirmed what everyone in the room already knew: that music is the sharing of emotions, while singing means giving. Collier gave her all while performing this piece.

Together, they comfortably sang Time to Say Goodbye in English and Italian, but not before showing their versatility with the popular Spanish song La Paloma.

At the end of what can only be described as one of the most memorable evenings this side of the world, Collier and San Juan drank champagne, sweated profusely, and sang to their heart's content.