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Such hardy perennials as Bampton Classical Opera (situated West of Oxford, Bampton also perform once annually at Westonbirt, near Tetbury in Gloucestershire) and the newly formed Victorian Opera (in Manchester) cater for a specific taste, specialising in revivals of rare works: those who can get to them invariably have a treat in store; and productions at Clonter, in Cheshire, offer important breakthroughs for aspiring young professionals.

Daniel Norman (left) and Mark Saberton (centre) in Bampton Classical Opera's 2004 staging of Haydn's 'La Vera Costanza' at Westonbirt
Daniel Norman (left) and Mark Saberton (centre) in Bampton Classical Opera's 2004 staging of Haydn's 'La Vera Costanza' at Westonbirt

Nor should one fail to pay tribute to Ellen Kent's needlessly maligned Moldovans: the orchestra from Chisinau (Russian Kishinev) is extremely serviceable and travels well, with some first rate players in its ranks (as with many former Soviet cities) and a dose of Russian and Romanian fire too. A good many of the Chisinau leads are singers of consequence, and Ellen Kent's industry and hard work has brought Butterflys, Bohèmes, Toscas and Carmens, at a more or less manageable price, to many neglected outlying corners (how much opera do you normally encounter in Tunbridge Wells, Crewe or Middlesborough?) where they have consistently given much pleasure and satisfaction. One's only cavil is that the Moldovans' well-worn repertoire could by now be a bit more daring: by expanding audiences' familiarity with opera further (Norma and Rigoletto were good recent examples) they can provide a valuable service.

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Copyright © 15 April 2007 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry UK

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