By Fiona Leckerman
The Fiddler’s first notes played to a packed BBC Proms auditorium was both mesmerising and moving in Grange Park Opera’s performance of Fiddler on the Roof as part of the 121st season of the BBC Proms on Saturday night.
Never has a space been so well suited to capture the music of Jerry Bock than the Albert Hall, from those promenading to those seated up high, not a sound could be heard other than that of the BBC Concert Orchestra and the players of this exceptional production.
First performed in 1964 and revived countlessly over the years, the story of Tevye and his daughters is just as relatable. The issues of religion and tradition, the aspects of fighting change and the underscoring of hatred are still relevant themes.
With such a well-known and loved musical it was a joy to see it in as a partly staged version as part of the Proms; removing the set, all that is left are the characters and their story, making this performance an unforgettable and visceral experience.
Staged at the Proms proves that 50 years after Fiddler was first performed there remains an audience for it. It is even more special that a musical so recognisably Jewish, continues with humour, to pose important questions, as Tevye points out “A bird may love a fish but where would they live?”
Bryn Terfel gives Tevye a real authority with his powerful and beautiful voice and yet such humility and emotion.
His musical versatility coupled with his skill as an actor carries the production, without a need to make comparisons to the most famous Tevye,Topel.
In fact, having seen Topel in the West End production in the 90s, Terfel adds an earthy gravity to the part and yet delivers the comedic lines with panache.
This Fiddler is not just a showcase for Terfel’s talent; it’s a celebration of the musical, one which still resonates with audiences today.
The cast were faultless, with rousing performances of Tradition and Sunrise Sunset, particular highlights from Katie Hall as Hodel singing Far From the Home I Love and the touching repartee of Do You Love Me? between Janet Fullerlove as Golda, and Terfel.
Fiddler on the Roof will always be a favourite but not just because of its Jewish centred story but because the humour, score and underlining themes continue to entertain and speak to its audience, notably demonstrated by the standing ovation at the Proms and the quiet ripples of Mazel Tov!
Picture credit: BBC/Chris Christodoulou