Monday, 18 March 2019

Lunchbreak Opera announces its ambitious plans for the 2019/20 season

Lunchbreak Opera from Lunchbreak Opera on Vimeo.

Lunchbreak Opera is a relatively new company whose mission is to persuade those who work in the area around St Botolph without Bishopgate (where the company is based) a lunch-hour nourishing their artistic imagination with one of its accessible and digestible opera performances. The company is run by artistic director Thomas Holland and musical director Matthew O'Keeffe (who also runs the Brixton Chamber Orchestra, see my interview with Matthew).

On Friday 15 March 2019, the company had a launch for its ambitious 2019/20 season, building on the success of its previous productions, Puccini's Suor Angelica (in 2017) and Salieri's Prima la musica (2018).

On Friday were heard singers Eva Gheorghiu (soprano), Joanna Harries (mezzo-soprano), Joseba Ceberio (tenor) and Jack Holton (baritone) in a programme of opera arias and duets which, with lively narration from Thomas Holland and Matthew O'Keeffe and introductions from the singers themselves, provided an informative yet amusing introduction to the world of opera. We heard arias by Mozart, Bizet, Leoncavallo, Puccini and Donizetti, ending with a trio of numbers from more recent operas, Douglas Moore's The Ballad of Baby Doe, Samuel Barber's A Hand of Bridge, and Jonathan Dove's Flight.

The company plans to perform Puccini's Gianni Schicchi  from 16 to 20 September at St Botolph without Bishopsgate, in a new translation by Thomas Holland (setting the piece in Sicilian Mafia territory) with a new orchestration by Matthew O'Keeffe for a Sicilian band - accordion, trumpet, clarinet and strings, and as a taster, Eva Gheorghiu sang O mio babbino Caro. Then in 2020 the company plans Lennox Berkeley's A dinner engagement which was written for Britten's English Opera Group and premiered at the Aldeburgh Festival in 1954

Performances are free to attend, with a retiring collection, and at under an hour long they are designed to fit into the working day with lunchtime and rush hour performances. The company performs in English with accompaniment from a chamber ensemble.

There is a treasure trove of one act operas, many woefully neglected, and I look forward to the company's explorations.

Full details from the Lunchbreak Opera website.

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