Rehearsals proceed apace for our various forthcoming projects! First up are our concerts with no fewer than nine soloists plus our splendid chorus who will take us on a guided tour of the magical story of opera, with narrator Charles Rimmer – informative, we hope, but entertaining too. We are calling it our Rough Guide to Opera.
Our exciting new production of Donizetti’s Elixir of Love opens at the Mylor Theatre, Truro College, on October 29th. Written in just six weeks in 1832, this greatest of Italian comic operas also has moments of real pathos, notably Nemorino’s much-loved aria Una furtiva lagrima. Apart from the young professional tenor William Morgan, playing Nemorino, our brilliant cast will be completely “home-grown”. We are lucky to have the inspiring direction of Richard Jackson, who has found time in his busy London teaching life to bring this sparkling comedy to life for Duchy Opera.
You may know that Duchy Opera also fields a crack team of seven solo singers, The Troubadours, primed to deliver a thrilling programme of operatic excerpts at a moment’s notice! Their next deployment will be to a FODO event at Cabilla Manor on July 13th by kind invitation of Robin and Louella Hanbury-Tennison. So if you know of any location seriously starved of opera let us know. We can be there to offer much-needed solace and spiritual refreshment!
…..and from Richard Jackson, Duchy Opera’s Artistic Advisor and director of the Elixir of Love:
The "Elixir" and I are old friends: we go back to something like 1980, when Opera North cast me in the role of Belcore, the Sergeant who rather thinks he's God's gift. An early memory is sitting on the rocks near Cape Cornwall absorbing and memorising the role, doing it moreover months in advance, like a good professional. But in fact I'd shot myself in the foot: I did so much absorbing and memorising that, by the time the Opera North librarian got in touch to say sorry, but they'd sent me the wrong translation and I'd have to learn another one, it was all in my memory, and it proved very hard to shift one set of words out of the way in favour of a new lot! The first rehearsal too was difficult: I was a young singer making his debut, and the first scene I had to do involved being frightfully cocky and going round flirting with all the female chorus: sounds fun - except that the director kept shoving me out of the way and showing everyone how it should be done. I got the message that he didn't think I was really up to it..... however, the unpromising beginnings were swept away by the piece itself, a wonderful evocation of the games people play with each other, a scenario that is always saved from cruelty by the fact that underneath it all they're good-natured - and by my colleagues, Lillian Watson, Ryland Davies and Forbes Robinson. By the time we'd done about 8 shows we were cooking up a pretty good storm! We toured all over the place, and I drove Lillian back to London after every performance - she popping bits of chicken and pork pie - not to mention those naughty M & S teacakes - into my mouth as we drove down the M1.....
My next significant memory of the opera was getting a call from a director friend of mine, who was in charge of a revival at Covent Garden. He said that Jose Carreras had cancelled - and that I should come along, as Luigi Alva was going to sing Nemorino - the village lad who loves totally and steadfastly, but is rejected for much of the opera: I went along, and have to say that this great artist played the character with such soulful sincerity, such eternal hope, and yet touched such depths of utter despair (I'm rather choking now as I write this), that when we got to the moment ("Una furtiva lagrima") when it dawns on this seemingly unloved young man that someone does love him after all, it was quite overwhelming. There's a heart of pure gold in this story.