Review: Johan Strauss Gala, Newcastle City Hall

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ON A chilly January night I stepped from the streets of Newcastle into the happy heart of 19th Century Vienna.

Well, as good as, because a night with the Johann Strauss Gala is the very next best thing.

The Gala blends the talents of an orchestra, dancers, a violin maestro and a solo soprano to perform the cream of entertainment from the era of the man christened the “Waltz King”.

Favourites of the day, like the Radetzky March, Champagne Polka and the Tritsch Tratsch Polka made for a lively evening and the audience were really into it too.

There was a lot of gentle comedy in between the music – while the Gala is a slick performance, all of the members seemed keen to have good fun with it.

David Juritz is everything a musical director needs to be for this kind of show; humble, funny and remarkably talented. His violin solo showed the talent and dedication that has seen him perform all over the world as a soloist and with the London Mozart Players.

While Soprano-soloist Amy Freston was a smash hit and her last performance of the night, The Laughing Song from Die Fledermaus, was absolutely brilliant.

My hands nearly fell off from clapping and the lady sitting next to me clearly felt the same – at one point I thought she might take off.

In the second half, the dancing stepped up a notch with some breathtaking choreography that made me feel giddy just watching. Some of the dancers seemed to have legs independent of their bodies, which took a bit of getting used to, but was extremely impressive.

When the final piece arrived, The Blue Danube Waltz, I didn’t want it to end.

Alison Goulding