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Heritage Opera, based in the North West, is one of those thriving and enterprising young professional companies that make it their business to deliver opera to places opera rarely penetrates to. What makes this ensemble (which has the distinguished baritone John Rawnsley, who was born at Colne in East Lancashire, as its patron) special is that on a very slim budget it draws in some first-class young singers and serves up productions that are forceful, attractive, involving and well thought-through.
Last season Heritage Opera served up Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, with one of its leading performers, the soprano Serenna Wagner, in the role of Onegin's former love, Tatyana -- warmly applauded for her famous 'Letter Scene', which amounts to a formidable operatic scena.
Handbills for Heritage Opera's Viennese evening, 'Così fan tutte' and 'Eugene Onegin' (all in 2006)
Mozart's Così fan tutte has also been staged in period costume, and they have The Marriage of Figaro on the stocks for summer 2007, underlining how this fresh, spirited company is well capable of undertaking more than one main production -- indeed as many as three events -- in a single year. Energy like this deserves rewards and Arts Council recognition. The North of England is the beneficiary.
Four of Heritage Opera's impressive venues - Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Blackburn, Lancashire (top left); Haigh Hall, Wigan (top right); Towneley Hall, Burnley (bottom left); Lancaster Castle at sundown
Copyright © 15 April 2007
Roderic Dunnett, Coventry UK