This energetic south London company has staged some of the funniest and most ingenious work on the opera stage over the past few years, and this autumn it stages Leonard Bernstein’sCandide. This comic and tender operetta is based on the 1759 novella by French philosopher Voltaire, whose memorable characters express their big and often eccentric personalities in song.
In the title role, as the innocent young man setting out in the world, is tenor Nick Pritchard. His ever hopeful mentor Dr Pangloss is sung by bass-baritone Frederick Long. Soprano Ellie Neate is the lovely Cunégonde, and mezzo-soprano Sarah Pring is the Old Lady, who has an indefatigable appetite for life.
Soprano Ellie Neate is Cunégonde
This colourful coming-of-age saga finds Candide rebounding from setback after setback – including an earthquake – and meeting larger-than life figures. Each has wonderful songs, among these Cunégonde's poignant 'Glitter and Be Gay' and the Old Lady's I Am So Easily Assimilated.
Pring is familiar to viewers of Sky Arts as one of the inspiring mentors in Anyone Can Sing, the series that helped music-lovers to find their true voices. Fellow Anyone Can Sing mentor and south London resident, the international tenor Nicky Spence, is patron of Blackheath Halls Opera.
'The experience of bringing an opera to life requires such huge commitment from everybody involved and really highlights the joy of making an opera in the community,' says Spence. 'Bernstein's music requires flair, comedy, musical precision and a great deal of inquisitive imagination – something our community has in spades!'
The Old Lady is sung by Sarah Pring (centre), seen her with the aspiring voices of Sky Arts' Anyone Can Sing
The distinguished professional singers will be joined by the multi-talented community opera chorus and accompanied by the pro-am Blackheath Halls Orchestra, under Christopher Stark, co-founder of the boundary-smashing Multi-Story Orchestra in Peckham.
One of the great attractions of Blackheath productions is the skill with which large forces are central to the story and to the look of the show. Bringing the piece to life this time falls to Sebastian Harcombe, former head of acting at RADA. Elliott Squire is the designer.
British composer Matthew Taylor gives an illuminating and often amusing insight into the American composer's life and career in a talk entitled Bernstein: As I Knew Him, at Blackheath Halls on Wed 28 Sept, 7PM. Click here to book
Previous productions by Blackheath Halls Opera include a romping Offenbach's La Belle Hélène and, last year, John Blow's Venus and Adonis, set in the studio of a TV dating game. Expect the unexpected when Candide starts his travels in September...
Candide is sung in English. Performances are at 7PM on Tues 27 Sept and Thurs 29 Sept, and at 2:30PM on Sat 1 Oct and Sun 2 Oct. Trains from London Bridge go to Blackheath station, five minutes' walk from the Halls.
|What||Candide, Blackheath Halls Opera|
|Where||Blackheath Halls, Blackheath, 23 Lee Road, Blackheath, London, SE3 9RQ | MAP|
27 Sep 22 – 02 Oct 22, Four performances, two at 7PM, two at 2:30PM
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|