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Kennet Opera - La Bohème

14th to 16th November 2013.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Triumph for Kennet Opera

Kennet Opera: La Bohème, at the Com Exchange, from Thursday, November 14 to Saturday, November 16

Kennet Opera returned to the Corn Exchange last week, for its 20th season, with a brand new production of Puccini's timeless masterpiece La Bohème.

The diverse opera company has grown from a membership of just six to ah ever-increasing group of talented individuals whose variety of skills enable these much-anticipated annual performances to come to life.

Guy Edwards truly shone as the lead role Rodolfo, portraying the immense sense of loss at the close of the final act with a hard-hitting impact.

Other stand-out performances came courtesy of three young singers at the start of their careers. Heather Caddick captured Mimi's fragility with a natural grace and elegance; a natural actress with a rich and powerful soprano voice. Jessica Wise handled the considerable vocal challenges of the role of Musetta with aplomb in a performance that demonstrated both vocal agility and a mastery of comic timing. This was well matched by Charles Allinson's commanding interpretation of Marcello - the chemistry between the pair was palpable. The principal cast was completed by John Harrad, Jim Petts and Anthony Goffart, who were a strong and often humorous presence in the opera throughout.

The opera comes to life at the end of the second act; a bustling market scene that was animated by an enthusiastic and confident chorus, with added children and soldiers, who clearly relished their time on stage. This scene also provided the perfect platform for director of costume Lili Turtle, whose designs were vibrant and detailed and would not look out of place on the stage of a major opera house.

The singers were supported throughout by a talented ensemble of players under conductor Joe Paxton, a local musical director of great promise who navigated Puccini's score with a maturity and tenderness.

Stage director Ruth Mariner is another auspicious young talent whose work demonstrated rich characterisation, and a keen sense of emotional depth. This was balanced with considerable dexterity in the act two market scene, during which a complex array of individuals were tightly interwoven into a vibrant visual feast.

Overall, another triumph from our local opera company.