A celebration of Spring in aria and song, at St Hydroc Church, set in the beautiful gardens of the National Trust's Lanhydrock House.
With Alice Margetts (soprano), Rachael Sadka (soprano), Paul-Ethan Bright (countertenor), Robin Brown (bass), Rebecca Brenton (clarinet), Simon Dunbavand (piano), and Paul Drayton (piano).
COMING IN 2014
MAY 4 – MINACK THEATRE, PORTHCURNO - www.minack.com
The irascible International impresario and falafel enthusiast, Baron Herzog, is back from his European travels to present a brand new show of operatic highlights, including solo and chorus pieces from Mozart, Lehar, Donizetti, Verdi and more. With scenes from famous opera’s such as Carmen, Marriage of Figaro, L’elisir d’Amore, The Merry Widow, La Traviata and Il Trovatore, all hosted in the Baron’s inimitable and irreverent style, this is a show for people who like opera, and for people who don’t! Duchy Opera’s Musical Director, Paul Drayton accompanies on piano and the Box of Operatic Delights features the chorus of Duchy Opera alongside guest soloists.
See venues for times and tickets
JUNE 27/28 – Princess Pavilion, Falmouth - www.carrickleisureservices.org.uk
Duchy Opera present two new performances of their acclaimed new chamber opera for all ages, adapted from the popular Cornish legend by composer Paul Drayton and director Keith Sparrow, with choreography by Helen Tiplady. Working with four local Primary Schools, The Mermaid of Zennor features children from St Mary’s Falmouth, Threemilestone, Cusgarne and Bosvigo, Truro. It tells the story of Morveren the Mermaid and her love for the fisherman Mathew Trewhella, who captivates her with his singing at evensong in the tiny village of Zennor. Running at approx. 55mins, with charming music and colourful costumes, it is suitable for adults and children of all ages.
The Mermaid of Zennor was developed from Duchy Opera’s popular school’s outreach programme known as The School Run, which has visited primary schools the length and breadth of the region for the last three years. The School Run seeks to introduce children to the medium of opera and to stimulate their passion and enjoyment of singing and performing.
Details for tickets to follow shortly
The Mermaid of Zennor is supported by
A very talented singer and actor, Evie has sung with Duchy since 2010, in which time she has gone from singing in the chorus to working with our School Run education programme and performing solo arias at concerts, as well as recently taking her first principal role as Mercedes in our production of Carmen. She will be playing Erica in the forthcoming Baron Herzog shows. Evie currently takes singing tuition with Margaret Kingsley, and we wish her all good luck in her future career.
As well as singing with the chorus of Duchy Opera and working with our School Run team, Kirsten has sung regularly as a guest soloist with the male voice choirs of City of Truro, Treverva and Nankersey. She has singing tuition with Cheryl Rosevear, and has taken up an unconditional place at Bath Spa, starting this September.
Duchy Opera are always keen to work with talented young singers, encouraging them to develop their singing and stagecraft. If you would like to know more about singing with us please email duchy@duchyopera, and mark your email for the attention of our Musical Director, Paul Drayton.
Review by Eric Dare, The West Briton
Another innovative production
THE overture begins, and on stage a genuine recording of Ireland's TV news – with a video of Belfast FC's new signing: the invincible striker, Escamillo.
This clever start introduces us to a different Carmen – Bizet's bullring is now a football pitch, his Spanish Gypsies and smugglers, dissident Republicans in Northern Ireland during the 'Troubles'.
All credit to Benjamin Symes for his adaption and direction. He continues the innovative and successful series of Duchy Opera's recent productions.
Touring from Helston and St Ives to Liskeard and Bude, the necessarily simple set with boxes as walls, tables and seats is sufficient, efficiently changed and well lit by Adam Honeyman.
For the orchestra, two pianos (Anthony Trodd and Jonathan Watts) to support the singers. And in this department there is no economy: the singing was well up to the standard we have come to expect under the direction of Paul Drayton.
Professional singers heading the cast gave the production a distinctive polish – Gianluca Paganelli as Johnny J (Don José) who, spurning the trusting Micaela* (Milena Dobrzycka) becomes tragically infatuated with Cara Main (Carmen)**, sung by Saffron Jones.
Bizet gives all of them splendid melodies that were sung superbly. Among such were Don José's duet with Micaela and his long infatuated solo, having been seduced by Carmen; her sexy Habanera was one of many. The slick quintet with the smugglers and three girls, Carmen, Frasquita (another professional, Lucy Eaton) and Mercedes (Evie Hidderley) was another triumph. These were matched by the singing of Ian Kinver, commanding in both roles, as the officer Morales and smuggler Dancairo, and Keith Sparrow as an exuberant Escamillo. Other local singers included Frank Linn (Zuniga) and Derek Rowse (smuggler Remendado).
The chorus impressed, not only in their singing but also generally in their movement, particularly as Gypsy girls / factory workers / football fans – but not the dancing in Lilas Pastia's bar.
In the following act there was no sense of risk and danger in smuggling. I also wished that Paganelli's splendid singing was matched by his acting that often lacked the hot-blooded passion the part demands. He could have learnt from Escamillo, the most convincing actor in the cast.
Nevertheless it was a rewarding production that, chorally, matched the best in recent years.
*Charlotte Embree and **Simone Hellier, for other performances.
Pics by Linda Petzing
CAST of CARMEN
The Mermaid of Zennor (2012)
The Mermaid of Zennor performance at Truro Cathedral on July 12th, was filmed by award-winning local film-maker, Brett Harvey. Brett (younger brother of Simon, who directed the Duchy Opera production of Semele in 2008) recently won the best writer/director award at the London Independent Film Festival for his first feature film, Weekend Retreat.
Schools who were involved in The Mermaid of Zennor:
The Mermaid of Zennor was supported by
The Mermaid of Zennor Review - Eric Dare, The West Briton
'Polished and enchanting Duchy Opera'
LOCAL and touring companies give us the standard operatic repertoire; but it is Duchy Opera who in recent years have offered a variety of original productions.
Their latest, which ended its tour to a packed audience in Truro Cathedral last week, was The Mermaid of Zennor. Disobeying her father by venturing onto land, the mermaid Morveren is captivated by the singing of a young fisherman, Mathew. They fall in love, and despite his mother's pleas disappear together into the sea.
From this simple tale librettist and producer Keith Sparrow has conceived a polished and enchanting short opera with music by Paul Drayton – four-square choral, romantic for the lovers together with 'sea pictures', sometimes beguiling and serene, sometimes menacing.
It was fitting that only the youngsters on the shoreline still hear the distant love duet; for the past two years Duchy Opera has been introducing opera to primary schools. Scores of them took part from Mevagissey, Mylor Bridge and Trewirgie schools. In their colourful costumes they portrayed a host of sea creatures, rocks and waves. A particular highlight was their own Undersea Chorus song choreographed by Helen Tiplady.
The four experienced principals were splendid with voices that filled the vast building – John Beazley, bass, a powerful, commanding Lyr, King of the Ocean; Susan Lancaster, alto, the anxious mother of soulful Mathew (Ranald McCusker, tenor, a cathedral choral scholar) and Lucy Eaton, soprano, as the bright-eyed, adventurous Morveren.
There were solos, duets and a particularly effective final quartet. They were supported by the well-rehearsed chorus, principally involved in singing prayerful thanks for the safe return of their fishermen and their harvest.
Jay Brown designed a simple but clever set and the spectacular costumes of King Lyr and Morveren.
The accompaniment was provided by a string trio – Veronica Woodburn, violin, Hannah Allen, viola and Liz Brazier, cello, with the musical director, Paul Drayton, on the keyboard.
We have had Russell Pascoe's opera, Charlotte Diamond; in a county that abounds in tales and myths, I look forward to more from the Drayton/Sparrow combination.
Duchy Opera at the Minack (2012)
Baron Herzog's Box of Operatic Delights
Heinrich Marschner's The Vampire (2011)
Vampire Review - Eric Dare, January 2012 issue of Opera Magazine
Yet again Duchy Opera has given Cornwall something refreshingly new – remember its 2006 centenary production of The Wreckers? With the innovative Keith Sparrow, who updated The Merry Widow last season, we were assured of an entertaining evening with Heinrich Marschner’s The Vampire.
Vampire Review - Lee Trewhela, The West Briton
'Bloody Good Opera'
This season's production couldn't be more different than last year's frothy, fun version of Lehar's The Merry Widow.
Therein lies the success of Duchy Opera – a company which refuses to rest on its laurels, is eager to experiment and keen to attract a new audience to the world of opera.
Barring a little too much scene-setting smoke, which set off Truro School's fire alarms ten minutes into the show causing an evacuation, this was a stark production with the look of a camp 1920s silent horror film.
Keith Sparrow is a bit like Little Britain's Dennis Waterman who "wrote the theme toon, sang the theme toon". A jack of all trades, Keith directed, designed, put together the impressive programme and even appeared as a husband-to-be who loses his bride to the vampire and, if that wasn't enough, he was one of the demons too.
He certainly brings something new to what could be argued is a staid and old-fashioned musical form. Who's seen an opera that begins with an animated Vampire Master laughing manically from above?
The story, in short, sees Ruthven the Vampire being given 24 hours, by said cartoon ghoul, to slay three young brides in 1950s' Gorbals (updated from the original German setting of 1828) in order to gain one more year of living. Philip Cade occupied this role with relish; calm and calculating when charming his victims, exploding in fury when his plans are thwarted – and what a voice.
The standout for me was Cornish singing star-in-waiting Phillippa Lusty, innocent and demure as Ruthven's (or the Earl of Marsden in his other guise) first victim Janthe and then living up to her surname as sultry Emmy, murdered on her wedding day. Alluring and with a beautiful soprano voice, one wishes Phillippa well with her singing career in London.
The charm and humour in the work, which musically isn't that memorable, came from the delightful chorus. Though their accents wavered so much it was hard to tell whether this was Glasgow, Giggleswick or Golant.
Elinor Chapman, with a voice so powerful it could possibly shatter glass, played Malwina, saved from being Ruthven's third victim by her true love, Edgar Aubry (David Webb). David deserved a medal for battling on after a nasty cough threatened to derail his delightful tenor – thankfully the vocal cords won.
The other winners were musical director Paul Drayton – does this man ever stop working? – and musicians Sarah Hanley, Jess Robinson, Jacqueline Kershaw, Naomi Johnston and Anthony Trodd, who brought the fairly light score to life.
Duchy Opera managed to take a bite out of a little-known work and instead of killing it off, breathed new life into it.
NEW CHORUS MEMBERS WANTED
Duchy Opera are always looking for new chorus members to join us.
If you are interested in performing new and exciting opera productions and concerts with us, why not come along to a Sunday night rehearsal and say hello?
The Chorus of Duchy Opera rehearses regularly between 7-9pm at Tresillian Village Hall, just outside Truro. New members of all ages are always welcome and may be subject at some point to an informal audition with Paul Drayton. This is to enable him to get an idea of individual voices and strengths. Reading music is useful but not essential, but an enthusiastic and focussed approach to learning is a must! We are particularly keen to work with young and developing talents to bring on the next generation of opera stars.
Duchy Opera has a busy and active educational programme, and we are looking for University and College level students who are interested in youth and school work, who may want to get involved in our successful School Run outreach team. If this sounds like you, please email email@example.com for further details.
We also welcome contact from students interested in behind-the-scenes creative roles, such as costume and set design, photography etc. In 2010 we worked with UCF photography student David Maynard and Tremough dance student Meghan Carney, and in 2011 we worked with UCF graduate, Ami Grinstead on costumes for The Vampire production.
Opera productions offer a wealth of opportunities for students to gain experience in the performing arts, so please feel free to contact us for further information.