Verging on London standards
RODERIC DUNNETT visits Dorset and Stowe Opera
for productions of 'Norma' and 'Don Carlo'
Dorset and Stowe Opera are among the finest regional opera companies
in Britain. Both perform a sterling service by staging relatively traditional-style,
approachable opera during August just when the main UK opera venues (Glyndebourne
and Edinburgh apart) are closed down. Each handles mainstream repertoire
with confidence, performs in the original language (although the lack of
surtitles can be an obstacle), and fields a capable, disciplined orchestra.
Both are unafraid to make sorties into rarer repertoire (Dvorák's
Rusalka, Carlos Gomes's Salvator Rosa) with marked success,
courageously taking their audience with them, as a truly enterprising company
must. Both have nurtured rising new talent, faced the difficulties of balancing
heavy budgets and emerged unfazed and triumphant. These are first-class
Patrick Shelley (foreground) rehearses Norma for Dorset Opera. Photo : Ikon Studios, Sherborne
This season Dorset Opera (based in Sherborne, conveniently accessible
from the south-west-bound A303) staged Bellini's Norma. Having just
returned from some fairly mixed-bag Italian opera performances at the home
of Rossini, Pesaro, one was ready armed with comparisons. Musically, Dorset
won hands down.
Copyright © 1 December 2002
Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK