Former Chichester schoolboy Jonathan Ansell offers A Night in Venice by Candlelight on Friday, July 1 (7.30pm), at The Hawth, Crawley.
Jonathan, of G4 fame, will be joined by Maria Kesselman (BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night Is Music Night) and Li Li (Top 20 USA Billboard Charts).
The producers of Magical Mozart and A Viennese Strauss Gala promise a glittering opera extravaganza. Recreating the glamour of Venetian soirees, the masked balls and society bustle, A Night in Venice encapsulates some of the greatest music of Verdi, Puccini and Rossini.
Classical Brit Award nominee Jonathan is loving the experience: “We are having a great time. It is a show that bridges the gap between formal grand opera and the more traditional cross-over shows that I usually do. It is opera moments that you will remember or that will be humming away in your head for days afterwards, and it is all put together with a basic narrative with a traditional theatrical production, with very limited amplification. It is great not to have to rely on amplification. We have got smaller venues, so it is a great experience for the audience to hear the voices as they are.”
For Jonathan it is all part of the variety he loves in his career, which, to an extent, has come full circle.
Jonathan shot to fame on the first series of the X-Factor as the front man of pop-opera group G4. As runners-up, G4 went on to top the charts with three hit albums and enjoy four sell-out tours. When G4 split in 2007, Jonathan launched as a solo artist signing a £1 million record deal with Universal Classics and Jazz.
But two years ago, to mark G4’s tenth anniversary, they got back together for a reunion show and loved it so much that G4 are now well and truly back together again, albeit with just three of the four originals. Their autumn tour is called Back for Good, which Jonathan jokes is both promise and a threat. And then after that, they launch into the G4 – Christmas by Candlelight Tour 2016.
Significantly for Jonathan, who grew up in Bognor Regis and went to school at Chichester’s Bishop Luffa, it will include G4’s first-ever concert date in Chichester Cathedral (December 15). Jonathan did a solo show in the cathedral a few years back as part of the now defunct Chichester Festivities; but until now, it’s a venue he has never played with G4.
“It’s fun to do it again, and what we love is that we have a window where we do work with G4 but we can also get the opportunity to do our individual projects as well, which is really exciting and which gives us a balance. We didn’t have that before. First time round, it was 24/7 we were together, both recreationally and professionally, where we spent every waking hour together, travelling, eating, working. That’s not great in any relationship, even in the most loving marriage!”
And while it was nerve-racking to re-emerge with a replacement for Matt, they have been delighted at the way fans have responded to newcomer Nick Ashby.
The result is that, with space for their own projects, they really have got the best of all possible worlds: “It is unbelievable to think that we have this opportunity. We are really grateful that the audiences are still there and still flooding into the shows. It does surprise us. The reality is that we have no expectations. We just take every step as it comes. And we relish it, to have the audiences cheering.”
Maria Kesselman’s credits include numerous lead roles including Christine opposite Michael Crawford in The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre. She has also performed in many other genres including opera, dance, theatre, concerts, cabaret and as a recording artist.
Tickets on 01293 553636 or www.hawth.co.uk.
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