The Kennet Opera web site is at www.kennetopera.co.uk. Twitter: @KennetOpera
1791: Mozart's last year, 5th April, 19:30
Mozart died aged 35 in December 1791 and our first concert of the year, a 'celebration in song and words', is mostly opera and choral works from his final year, when his creativity was as astonishing as ever. The audience will enjoy the splendid acoustics of the Majendie Hall, part of St Mary's Church in Speen, Newbury. The show won't just be music – some items will be staged and acted. And a lively commentary will come from Emanuel Schikaneder (1751 – 1812), the actor-manager, singer and composer, an associate of Mozart.
St Mary's Church, Speen, Newbury.
Review of La Cenerentola
9th to 12th November 2016.
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
Opera was a real ball
La Cenerentola plays to the company's choral strength
Kennet Opera: La Cenerentola, at Arlington Arts, Snelsmore, from Wednesday, November 9, to Saturday, November 12
Kennet Opera chose Rossini's sparkling La Cenerentola ('the girl of the ashes', aka Cinderella), for their 22nd annual production.
Given that opera is a notoriously difficult art form to mount successfully, Kennet Opera wisely used the expertise of some professional practitioners – as principal singers, and in direction, stage and costume design, lighting and music – which also allowed the production to play to the company's choral strength.
Cinderella is a girl with a hard life, 'who dreams of a life less ordinary'. The set, uncluttered but cleverly versatile, put the kitchen hearth centre stage, with action also glimpsed behind tall side windows. Under director Stan Pretty, the cast made entrances and exits from both backstage and the auditorium, giving continuous, flowing interest and ensuring there were no breaks in the action.
Here set in the 1930s but with a nod to the original fairytale, scenes were also linked with sequences from the mice dancers, Cinderella's kitchen companions, and from her phalanx of fairy godmothers (one with a dodgy wand).
The part of Cinderella in this opera has real substance. No cipher, hers is a credible character who develops as the opera progresses. Mezzo Katherine Cooper, with her agile, expressive voice and dramatic ability, gave a genuine heart and sweet centre to the production. Though, off to the ball in a vintage car, she takes to riches as to the manor born.
Robin Whitehouse as Prince Ramiro, whose heart she wins (thank goodness for matching bracelets…), is a less developed character, but his delicately sweet tenor blended well with hers.
Baritone Shaun Aquilina was ideally cast as the Prince's valet Dandini, relishing his assumed princely role; he must, he sings, 'marry for procreation or suffer deprivation'. He has a full, warm voice, with lots of vocal colour, and dramatic ability in spades. James Mitchell played Alidoro, the Prince's tutor and court magician; a main part which, somewhat paradoxically, always seems dramatically superfluous.
Don Crerar made the most of the foolish Don Magnifico, desperate to get rid of the bane of his life, his two 'female offspring', a couple of unsuccessful vamps. Be-medalled and toupéd (cue for some great business), he put in a genuinely comic performance, Dandini's hand on his knee causing him a moment of alarm. Costume designer Lili Tuttle displayed her passion for 30s style in the sisters' over-the-top clothes and wigs (scarlet woman Julie van Haperen as Clorinda, a dead ringer for my idea of Lilian Archer).
The 11-piece orchestra, under music director Max Fane, brought vivacity to Rossini's quicksilver score. The production was sung in English, with very pleasing ensembles. There were moments, however, when the chorus, and Tamsin Slatter (Tisbe), sang behind the tempo, compromising the essential bright, witty thrust of the music.
La Cenerentola, 9th to 12th November 2016
Summer Concert, 25th August 2016 at Sutton Hall, Church Road, Stockcross
Summer Concert, 2nd July 2016 at St Lawrence's Church, Hungerford
Opera Gala, 18th June 2016
La Traviata, 5th to 7th November 2015
An Evening with Kennet Opera, 26th August 2015 at St John's Church, Stockcross
The Wonderful World of Opera, 4th July 2015
A Night at the Opera, 23rd May 2015
Nabucco, 13th to 15th November 2014. See the review in the archive.
Delight in Singing, 5th July 2014 at St Lawrence's Church, Hungerford
La Bohème, 14th to 16th November 2013. See the review in the archive.
Spring Sing, 5th July and 10th August 2013
Macbeth, 15th to 17th November 2012. See the review in the archive.
Die Fledermaus, 17th to 19th November 2011. See the review in the Archive.
Open Air Concert, 23rd July 2010 at Hungerford Rugby Club
The Elixir of Love, 24th to 26th June 2010. See the review in the Archive.
Carmen, 5th to 7th November 2009.
The Magic Flute, 13th to 15th November 2008. See the review in the Archive.
Faust, 8th to 10th November 2007.
Sweeney Todd, 8th to 11th November 2006. See the review in the Archive.
Eugene Onegin, 10th to 12th November 2005. See the review in the Archive.
The Pearl Fishers, 11th to 13th November 2004. See the review in the Archive.
The Elixir of Love, 11th to 15th November 2003. See the review in the Archive.
La Traviata, 12th, 13th, 15th and 16th November 2002.
Cavalleria Rusticana & I Pagliacci, 13th and 15th to 17th November 2001. See the review in the Archive.
The Marriage of Figaro, 2000
A Masked Ball, 1998
La Boheme, 1997
La Traviata, 1996
Carmen (abridged version), 1995
Cosi fan Tutte, 1994