Opera fans in for a tuneful treat with a series of shows

Love and fidelity are put to the test in Mozart's comic opera Cosi fan tutte at Nottingham Theatre Royal [Photo by Tristram Kenton]

Love and fidelity are put to the test in Mozart's comic opera Cosi fan tutte at Nottingham Theatre Royal [Photo by Tristram Kenton]

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Opera fans are in for a tuneful time with the return of two touring companies bringing a fresh focus to four, must-see productions.

This week at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal the Leeds-based Opera North makes the first of this year’s visits with a triple treat and new takes on the highs and lows of life and love in good times and bad.

Tuesday’s opener, Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte (The School for Lovers), which is being repeated this Friday, features some of his most sublime music as the accompaniment to a story of desire, loyalty and truthfulness, which was rumoured to have been based on real-life events that scandalised Vienna.

The original setting of 18th century Naples is turned upside down into a camera obscura-type world as cynical, old philosopher Don Alfonso (William Dazeley) tests the faithfulness of sisters Fiordiligi (Irish soprano Maire Flavin) and Dorabella (Helen Sherman) and whether they will stay true to their respective boyfriends, Guglielmo (Gavan Ring) and Ferrando (Nicholas Watts).

The following evening there was a change of century and scenery for Giordano’s Andrea Chenier, set against the backdrop of the French Revolution and telling the tale of the love triangle between poet Chenier (Rafael Rojas) and servant-turned-revolutionary Gerard (Robert Hayward) as they vie for the romantic attentions of the beautiful aristocratic Maddalena (Annemarie Kremer) -- a love tryst that is played out in the shadow of the guillotine.

This tour-de-force staging -- sporting the soprano showpiece La mamma morta used in the Tom Hanks film Philadelphia, and the French National Anthem -- has already wowed audiences and critics alike, so if you want to see an Opera North winning debut don’t miss the repeat performance on Saturday.

Completing the company’s line-up this evening (Thursday) is a welcome re-run of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore (The Elixir of Love) which is given a fresh and fizzy updating to a sunny 1950s -- complete with a hot-air balloon, Vespa scooters and a dodgy love potion dispensed by quack doctor Dulcamara (Richard Burkhard) -- as goodhearted local Nemorino (South Korean tenor Jung Soo Yun) makes a play for the attentions of Adina (Romanian soprano Gabriela Istoc) although she seems more concerned with the arrival of conceited soldier Belcore (Duncan Rock).

Further details of showtimes, and ticket prices, £15 to £60, can be obtained from the Theatre Royal box office on 0115-989-5555, or via the website at www.trch.co.uk

And it doesn’t end there...The tunes and the drama continue apace at Mansfield’s Place Theatre next weekend with the arrival of regular visitors Swansea City Opera as it stages Puccini’s enduring romantic drama La Boheme as part of a 25-venue UK tour.

As with the 1896 original, this tearjerker is set in Paris on Christmas Eve but Swansea City Opera’s musical director, Brendan Wheatley, fast forwards the happiness and heartbreak to the mid-1940s and a French capital finding an uneasy peace as it recovers from the ravages of war and the German occupation.

Whatever the era, the appeal of this Puccini all-time favourite never fails to disappoint as fans old and new will find out when the curtain goes up at the Palace Theatre on Sunday week, 20th, at 7.30pm.

Further details of ticket availability, £15.38/ children £8.20, can be obtained from the Palace box office on 01623-633133, or via the website at www.mansfield.gov.uk/palace theatre