Carmen in the Cattle Ring

July 30, 2013 at 12:05 am Leave a comment

I am a huge fan of Winterbourne Opera. This operatic group based near Salisbury were established in 2000 and this is the third production I have seen. We had Dido and Aeneas in a granary barn, The Marriage of Figaro staged in a Georgian long gallery next to Salisbury cathedral, and this years offering was set in the cattle ring of Salisbury market. The acoustics were superb (especially when sung offstage and echoing all around the building) , and if the seating (concrete stands) were a little hard on the bottom we were at least pre-warned to bring cushions. The weather was kind and we enjoyed a picnic before the performance and then we were transformed to a very sleazy version of a town between a tobacco factory (the girls) and an army outpost (the boys). The love story is easy to follow, and, sung in English it was not at all difficult to understand what was going on. I am not an ‘Opera Buff’ and what I embrace most about the Winterbourne is that the chorus are Winterbourne singers who love to perform, and the lead roles are given to young rising opera stars, generously sponsored by friends of Winterbourne and local businesses, as are the excellent musicians. The whole performance was outstanding in the quality of singing and the energy and gusto with which the entire cast threw into the performance; Carmen (Helen Bruce) in particular, using the uprights of the cattle ring as if they were poles for dancing. And how can she sing whilst squirming on the floor with a man straddling her?! The girl deserves the opera worlds equivalent of an Oscar! Bizet’s wonderful musical score  is of course very familiar to us all – rather irreverently as an unmistakable ring tone….the musical quality of this production, both sung and played, was faultless. Next Summer, Gounod’s ‘Faust’…where on earth will they stage that?!


Entry filed under: culture. Tags: , , , .

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Debi Evans

Debi Evans

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