The dynamic London-based Focus Opera company will perform at Chiswick House next month at the annual opera season in the grounds of the historic west London house. The season opens on Wednesday 3rd July with a unique evening of arias and favourites from musical theatre cleverly woven into a story entitled Behind the Aria. The second evening, on Thursday 4th July, Focus Opera will perform a powerful new production of Bizet’s Carmen set just outside Seville in the 1950s.
Focus Opera’s Artistic Director Keith Cheetham, (an award-winning producer and director in film and TV) has created Behind the Aria exclusively for the performance at Chiswick House. It follows a young singer as she attends an audition which turns out to be a lot stranger than she expects. The Focus Opera Chamber Orchestra will perform favourites from grand Opera and Operetta; Verdi, Puccini, Mozart, Bizet, Lehar. And will include gems from the world of Musical Theatre; Gershwin, Bernstein, Sondheim and Schönberg.
Carmen will be performed by Focus Opera’s young international cast who promise a thrilling night of drama, sung in English and enhanced by Georges Bizet’s exciting and beautiful melodies. The composer’s rich and timeless score contains some of opera’s finest arias, acclaimed for the brilliance of melody, harmony, atmosphere and orchestration, and for the skill with which Bizet represented, musically, the emotions and suffering of his characters.
Tickets for all performances cost £30 for adults and £15 for under 16s (includes p&p and no booking fee), and are available now from www.chfriends.co.uk. Performances will be staged on the magnificent lawns at the rear of Chiswick House. Gates will open at 6pm allowing time for picnics on the lawns before the shows that start at 7.30pm each evening. The audience is encouraged to bring rugs and seating as chairs are not provided. And, if bringing food and wine is too much to organise, then food supplies can be bought from the Company of Cook’s stall on site, with wine, beer and champagne available from a stand provided by local brewer Fuller Smith & Turner.
The collaboration with Focus Opera will give audiences at Chiswick House an improved experience. Events Manager for the company Mark Grainger explains: “Performing outside at Chiswick brings many challenges. To overcome these we’re planning a much larger stage than previously used for the Summer Opera events plus an enhanced sound system.”
Music Director for Focus Opera Benjamin Ellin, an award-winning conductor and composer, explains more about performing at Chiswick House: “We’re known for quality productions and select some of Britain’s best young opera talent to perform with our vibrant and energetic orchestra. Ours is a fresh approach that Chiswick audiences will appreciate. Our interpretation of Carmen and new production Behind the Aria will both provide high entertainment value with the story of the opera at the heart of the production.”
Chiswick House Friends Opera Chairman Jan Grandison comments:” We are delighted to be promoting Focus Opera for our annual season in the gardens. It was clear from the first meeting that the dynamic partnership between Keith and Ben would provide us with the creative passion for opera that we have been looking for. We all hope that this is the start of a long and fruitful relationship between Focus Opera and the Friends to produce some outstanding entertainment and to help support our fundraising aims for Chiswick House.”