X Factor Star Plays Jesus in Yeovil
Updated: Apr 23
Classical music fans enjoyed a performance by X Factor star Jonathan Ansell in Yeovil on Sunday night (16th April), before the start of his new UK tour. The G4 and Les Musicals tenor was one of three world class soloists who took part in a 10th anniversary staging of the acclaimed oratorio Omega and Alpha, written and conducted by Somerset composer Martin Emslie and accompanied by a 60 member local choir.
The cast also included Castle Cary based mezzo soprano Marta Fontanals-Simmons, who recently performed at the Royal Opera House, and bass baritone John Savournin of the English National Opera. The show at Westlands marked 10 years since the world premier at Wells Cathedral in 2013 of this retelling of the Easter Passion story, in a fusion of sacred and theatrical music.
Jonathan’s appearance as Jesus was greeted with cheers from the audience, some of whom had come especially to see him before the start of a new national G4 tour from 18th April. He said: “It was so exciting to bring the oratorio back to life, it felt very poignant to perform the role once again and I had the best time. Being involved in a religious piece like this is something I do not take lightly and in particular taking on the role of Jesu was a huge privilege. I was thrilled to see some of my regular G4 fans in the audience and I hope that we brought something new to them which they may not have experienced before.”
Marta Fontanals-Simmons performed the roles of the narrator and Mary Magdalene. She said: “It was really lovely to revisit this piece after a decade and also to sing with Jonathan again - that was very special. I did remember most of the parts, especially the arias, but there were some aspects I had to remind myself about. Martin wrote a new second section to the oratorio, so it was wonderful to learn this and see how the piece has evolved over the intervening years.”
Martin Emslie said: “I was very gratified at the interest Omega and Alpha attracted once again, the performance was really enjoyable and it really didn’t feel 10 years old! The soloists were incredible, there was such a lot of talent on display. Ten years ago we had a full orchestra, but this time we had a community choir from Castle Cary and I was so impressed - they are only an amateur group and they proved that anything is achievable, their dedication and professionalism was inspiring.”
His next venture is an opera version of Hansel and Gretel, with the story brought up to date for a younger audience using text messages instead of a bread trail. He is also writing an operatic version of the biblical exodus story, which will form part of his doctorate studies in America.
All photos by Len Copland
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