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Sierra Leone Entertainment: A full moon, cool breeze and opera

Under a full moon and starry sky, an enthusiastic audience gathered on the poolside patio of Country Lodge to listen to Dr. Josryl Beckley and a sampling of her enormous operatic talents. As the candles flickered, the palm trees waved and the stunningly attired Beckley punctured the high notes from Gershwin to Verdi.
On Saturday evening the 4 November 2017, Beckley and newcomer Esther Michael, entertained a select and appreciative group of artistic-minded and operatically-inclined Sierra Leoneans and foreign visitors. Cool breezes accompanied the piano playing of Sierra Leone’s piano Picasso, Kitty Fadlu-Deen as she accompanied Beckley and Michael through a collection of opera and a few Broadway hits.
The silky darkness overhead was deepened by the slow rhythms and emotional highs and lows of operatic Mozart treats. As Beckley moved from Figaro to Edelweiss, made famous by Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music, the full moon seemed to bow and blink. It was riveting and the power of Beckley’s voice lurked underneath the sky, which seemed to twinkle and shift.
Agnes Bangura sipped her red wine and closed her eyes as Beckley snuck her voice down to hit bass notes. “The slowness and depth really touch my heart,” said Bangura.
The elegant yet inexperienced Esther Michael, sang a French opera for the first time in front of a crowd. Her nerves may have gotten the best of her for a short bit but she rose to the occasion, which was rewarded by thunderous applause from the enraptured audience.
Opera is an incredibly emotional musical genre. Opera has been described as melodramatic but the main thrust is to capture, enthrall and entertain one and all. In Beckley’s last song, she turned emotion on its head. Under a slight drizzle and as the night drew towards morn, Beckley soared into the clouds and absolutely wowed the die-hard onlookers. In a stunning climax, as the heroine of the opera dies… Beckley fell to the stage in a dramatic swoon… a more than fitting and apt performance to wrap up a fabulous evening of culture, music, opera, conversation and entertainment.
The intermission presented a sumptuous buffet of the famous Country Lodge cuisine, which included salads, prawns, fabulous fish and chicken in a peanut sauce that would make West African chefs stand on their heads. Topping off the meal was a piece of delicious banana cake with ice cream.
The evening felt like an intimate dinner and operatic performance with friends and family. “I love how close we all were. We came and were linked together under a spell, it seemed,” said HawaBangura. It was casual yet sophisticated. The music and food were delicious and delicate. The company – those around – were interesting and articulate. All in all, if you missed the evening, you missed something special.
Friday November 10, 2017.

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