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This spring Heritage Opera's spruce and galvanising new production of La Bohème [seen 24 February 2007] has been delighting audiences across the North -- in Lancaster, Skipton, Wigan, Burnley -- places that usually get not a whisper or glimmer of professional opera on their doorstep.

Skipton Castle, where Heritage Opera regularly performs. Photo © 2007 Sebastian Fattorini, Skipton Castle
Skipton Castle, where Heritage Opera regularly performs. Photo © 2007 Sebastian Fattorini, Skipton Castle

One of Heritage Opera's regular venues is the attractively renovated performance room in Skipton Castle, one of the best preserved medieval fastnesses in Northern England, founded high above the Eller Beck by a Norman baron.

Assailed and sacked by the Scots on several occasions from 1310, it came into the hands of the Clifford family, later Earls of Cumberland, who added the imposing early Tudor courtyard. Skipton survived a Puritan siege (1642-5) and partial dismantlement by Cromwell. Today it provides a historic context more suggestive of Bellini or Donizetti than Puccini, but whose newly whitewashed inner walls and compact interior performance room set off La Bohème and its mutually supportive characters in attractive clear relief.

A view of the Skipton Castle auditorium. Photo © 2007 Sebastian Fattorini, Skipton Castle
A view of the Skipton Castle auditorium. Photo © 2007 Sebastian Fattorini, Skipton Castle

 

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Copyright © 15 April 2007 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry UK

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