Wednesday 28 June 2023

Carmen comes to Clapham as St Paul's Opera celebrates 10 years

St Paul's Opera - Bizet: Carmen
My local opera company, St Paul's Opera (SPO) has been celebrating its 10th anniversary. There was a gala concert in April and now the company is presenting staged performances of Bizet's Carmen from 29 June to 1 July 2023 at St Paul's Church, Rectory Grove, Clapham, SW4 0DZ. Eleanor Burke directs with designs by Raphaé Memon, and John Paul Jennings conducting. Eleanor Burke directed HGO's terrific production of Janacek's Cunning Little Vixen (see my review)

Abbie Ward is Carmen (we caught her in HGO's Dido & Aeneas last year, see my review) with Roberto Abate as Don Jose (who was in Pegasus Opera Company's double bill of Philip Hageman opera last year), Benoît Déchelotte as Escamillo (Belcore in Longhope Opera's L'elisir d'Amore last year) and Lizzie Ryder as Micaëla (whom we caught as Röschen in The Opera Maker's enterprising performance of Ethel Smyth's Der Wald, see my review), and there is a full cover cast too.

The company has also been taking Carmen into into four state primary schools in and around Clapham, giving children a taste of opera with one of the most favourite titles in the operatic repertoire. These workshops introduce the world of opera through singing and music making, story-telling and role play. They are run by members of the SPO cast, many of whom work with children’s choirs and music groups in London and across the UK. Here are just a few of the comments received during the school workshops:

“Carmen is funny, but clever”

“Do you use your head to make that voice?”

“He looked like a tomato when he sang!”


“I want to be an opera singer - how do I do that?”

There is also a children's matinee performance of Carmen on 1 July 2023. This will be a performance of favourite arias and ensembles from the opera, including the children’s chorus, which will be prepared by the pupils as part of the schools workshops. The matinee cast features a number of the cover cast inclulding Elora Ledger - Carmen, Robin Whitehouse - Don José, Manuela Baranik - Michaëla, Alexandra Dinwiddie - Mercédès, Sophie Price - Frasquita, Peder Holtermann - Le Remendado, Thomas Litchev - Le Dancaïro, Julien Debreuil - Escamillo with Fr Jonathan Boardman as Narrator.

Full details from the St Paul's Opera website.

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