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A Godsend

Heritage Opera's 'La Bohème',


Some areas of Britain are lucky enough to have high-quality opera provided regularly right on their doorstep. Others do not. London, Leeds, Cardiff and Glasgow are served handsomely throughout the year with innovative productions of a wide range of repertoire; so are those other main cities to which major companies tour: Welsh National Opera to Bristol, Birmingham and Oxford, Opera North to Hull, Salford and Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield and so on.

Handbill for Heritage Opera's 2007 touring production of Puccini's 'La Bohème'

There is much to be said, especially for older patrons, for having opera on your doorstep. Yet for many significant outlying townships that lie beyond any company's special remit, to the east, west and north, and even in the centre of the country, opera is a hit-and-miss affair. Hardy regulars like Opera South, Kent Opera, Surrey Opera and New Sussex Opera help alleviate local deficiencies in the South. Garden Opera will gamely turn up at all sorts of unlikely indoor and outdoor locations. English Touring Opera manages to reach an impressive spread of venues with good quality and sometimes top-notch productions, and Mid Wales Opera and the excellent pioneering Music Theatre Wales take quite differing sorts of opera to medium-sized communities across (mostly) the central and southern parts of the Principality.

A seasonal element also has a bearing. If you're close to one of the summer opera festivals -- Glyndebourne, which also maintains a forceful young touring company (now entitled 'Glyndebourne on Tour'); Grange Park (East of Winchester); Garsington (just outside Oxford); Holland Park (in West London); Buxton (in Derbyshire); or Longborough (in the North Cotswolds) -- there are refined pleasures in prospect.

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Copyright © 15 April 2007 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry UK


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