Carreras with Hayley Westenra
ALBERT HALL, LONDON
WEDNESDAY 10th DECEMBER 2003
review should be unbiased so straight away I have a problem.
How can I possibly be unbiased when it comes to Hayley. Oh well,
those of you who are unaware, the concert featured Jose Carreras,
The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra conducted by Enrique
Ricci and the City of London Choir and, of course, our Hayley.
took my seat in the Arena about twenty minutes prior to the
scheduled start time. I flipped through the programme in search
of the section on Hayley. As I glanced around I could see many
people doing the same. I could hear comments all around me such
as, "she's only 16", "she's amazing" and
"she's lovely". It seems that I was not the only one
who was there only for Hayley.
concert began with an orchestral piece, 'Farandole from L'Arlesienne
Suite No 2' by Bizet; a rousing and triumphant prelude to what
was eagerly anticipated by the near capacity audience.
Carreras took the stage. The applause seemed to be given in
awe rather than being merely rapturous. He opened with 'Adeste
fidelis' (that is O Come, all ye faithful in Latin) with choir
and orchestra, followed by Schubert's 'Mille cherubini in coro'
which translates to 'a thousand angels singing'.... and we only
came to hear one!
applause faded, then instantly erupted again as Hayley walked
on to the stage. Clearly, she was already well known and well
loved by many. The orchestra began to play and seconds before
the vocal entrance I noticed Jose gave Hayley an encouraging
and almost paternal wink. It was very discrete but I just
caught it. He came across throughout the concert as though he
genuinely cared for Hayley and he was going to look after her
- not that she needed it.
they gave us Schubert's 'Ave Maria' and their two voices - the
strength and maturity of his and the beauty and purity of hers
- complimented each other perfectly. Although I had seen Hayley
in Trafalgar Square just four days earlier, this was the first
time I had seen her in a full concert environment in a major
venue. Right from the first note, she was truly magnificent.
As ever, she looked like a princess and sounded like an angel.
left the stage to Jose Carreras who performed two more songs.
I trust that Senor Carreras will forgive me if I move swiftly
on. I have great respect for him but this is a Hayley web site
returned to the stage for her first solo, 'Amazing Grace' -
two words that could have been invented for her. Oh, that voice.
Every note rang through with perfect clarity; always strong,
always confident and utterly gorgeous. The approximately 80-strong
choir backed her in the second verse but she was never in any
danger of being overshadowed by them. I will not dwell on this,
but Hayley then seemed to make a mistake by commencing the final
verse a little too late but the way she resolved it was magnificent,
inspired and thoroughly professional. She seemed totally unflustered
by it and carried on as though nothing had happened. Awesome.
left the stage as Jose Carreras returned for the remainder of
the first half. This culminated in a superb rendition of 'The
Lord's Prayer'. The power and the passion of his presentation
2 began with a solo spot for Hayley who delivered three songs,
the first and third of which were 'O Holy Night' and 'Mary,
Did You Know'. The melodies of both sounded complex and technically
very difficult but, naturally, Hayley sang them beautifully
and with ease. Both were quite beautiful. But for me, the highlight
of the evening was a song that I have come to love since I have
known Hayley. She introduced 'Pokarekare Ana' by saying that
it was a song from her home country, New Zealand. (Hayley, you
have a second home country now, you know.) She then explained
the meaning of the words. Although the song is traditional,
it is really becoming 'her song'. When she started to sing,
I just melted. The tempo seemed very slightly slower than the
version on 'Pure' and some of the dramatic impact as the key
changes was lacking but that is no criticism of Hayley. She
looked and sounded wonderful and the audience loved it.
Carreras then joined Hayley for a rendition of 'The Little Drummer
Boy' and again their voices combined beautifully.
the orchestra and choir then performed five more songs, all
of which were marvellous and collectively would have made a
perfect conclusion to a perfect evening. But, of course, it
didn't end there. There were six encores for Jose Carreras in
all, the third and sixth of which were in duet with Hayley.
These were 'All I Ask Of You' from Phantom of the Opera which
was inspirational and Silent Night which was heavenly.
was quite wonderful throughout as I knew she would be. This,
up to a point, shouldn't matter so it is just an added bonus
that, in a pink dress in the first half and a white one in the
second, both with sequins, and with the lights shining in her
beautiful hair, she looked absolutely stunning.
so they took their final bow to tumultuous applause and Jose,
Hayley and the conductor, Enrique Ricci were each presented
with bouquets of flowers. Somehow it felt not like the final
bow of three world class performers but a cheerful farewell
from three friends.
I walked down the corridor from the auditorium to the exit,
I overheard a snippet of conversation between two elderly ladies
who were walking behind me. One said to the other, "I came
here tonight to see Jose Carreras but I am going home to tell
everyone that I saw Hayley Westenra". I think that says
Reviews Menu 2003