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SUMMER OPERA REVIEWS

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RODERIC DUNNETT looks back at a
thumping good summer for opera festivals in Britain and Ireland

Part 1 - Castleward, Wexford and Stowe

 

Fiona McAndrew (right) and Juliet Norman in a scene from the 2000 Castleward Opera production of Martha

Opera Festivals in Britain and Ireland have had a good summer.  The season launched with an intimate, lively festival in Northern Ireland and culminated in a three-week marathon at a Southern Irish festival famed for its revivals of rare opera.

Jeffrey Stewart playing Lionel and Fiona McAndrew as Lady Harriet Durham in the 2000 Castleward Opera production of Martha

Leading the way was seasoned and inspired director Tom Hawkes's meticulously moved, intelligently structured and charmingly dressed production at Castleward Opera, beautifully sited above Strangford Lough, some 40 minutes south of Belfast, of Friedrich von Flotow's Martha, a highly attractive set-piece and ensemble comic opera, verging on operetta and best known for its frequent recourse to a ravishing Irish ditty, 'The Last Rose of Summer'. A clutch of good principals, needle-eye entries, absorbing, well crafted sets and skilled use of stage levels made this a seamless production, constantly entertaining and delightfully sung, not least by an able chorus. This cheerful production can still be caught, hopefully, when it is restaged at Belfast's Grand Opera House in February 200l.

Alan Fairs (centre) playing the reliable Sir Tristram Mickleford in the 2000 Castleward Opera production of Martha

 

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Copyright © 25 November 2000 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK

 

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