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HATTON OPERATIC SOCIETY
Amateur Societies rely heavily on regular supporters for their productions so choosing something that sounds like grand opera was a bit of a risk, but perhaps one worth taking as certainly on the night I came it was well attended. A number of the songs are so well known, that even a non opera lover would enjoy hearing them sung.
There was a great mix of people in the opening scene creating the atmosphere of a typical Spanish town, a good opportunity for members of the chorus to make their mark as their individual characters. Plenty of business happening, both seedy and customary, the Nun taking the young girls for their first communion, the street urchins, tourists and policemen all made for a lively start.
Aileen Smith in the role of Carmen was stunning. Her singing goes from strength to strength and has a depth to it now which makes it a sheer joy to hear. She was oozing with sex appeal and played the fiery independent woman superbly, a truly exceptional performance.
She was in a class of her own and consequently Tony Douch playing Don Jose was rather overshadowed. The singing was at times a little beyond his range but he acted the part well enough, his reluctance to enter into the smugglers’ way of life, despite his obsession with Carmen, was made quite clear. His costumes did little to give him a dashing enough appearance for the relationship with Carmen to be credible.
Amanda Lapping gave a secure performance as the gentle Michaela. She had a difficult song to sing and although her role was in complete contrast to that of Carmen, because of her acting and singing ability she made her mark.
As Escamillo, Peter Wood brought out the comedy in his role, had a very good singing voice and played the Bull-fighter, presumably now retired, with style.
A good performance also from Mike Davenport who as Zuniga looked every inch the Lieutenant and John Connor really made something of the small role of Lillas Pastia
The dance number in the tavern was lively and well presented by Connie Law and Adele Jones and they both played their parts convincingly.
The other named roles acted well and added to the story with their different characters.
Clive Walker directed the show with imagination and presented a visually attractive musical with good stage groupings and some dramatic setting. The card game and the intense finale were particularly notable.
Paul Nash had only a small group of musicians (not mentioned in the programme) but they were excellent, especially the flautist. The music throughout was played sympathetically and the underscored section of dialogue could be heard, which sadly is not often the case. He, along with the help of Rachel Keegan, had worked hard with the cast to present a musical much more taxing than the average one.
Choreography by Annelly James was fitting for the piece and those involved coped with it competently.
Costumes, hair and makeup were all suitable and the added sunglasses, cameras etc all made the first scene realistic.
Scenery was good and the properties were appropriate apart from the plastic glasses, which although you’ve used them before really don’t work as they make a completely different sound when they are placed on the table.
Lighting and sound departments worked artistically to enhance the production.
Your programme is nicely put together with interesting information regarding the background of ‘Carmen’ and I like the simplicity of the colour scheme.
Summing up I think that your venture into something ‘grander’ paid off and I’m sure that the cast enjoyed the challenge it presented. The English language is not as poetic to listen to as Italian but apart from one particularly repetitive song the musical numbers seemed to translate well.
Thank you for inviting me to see ‘Carmen’ which was enjoyable and also for your hospitality on the evening, It was good to meet Clive again and I shall look forward to your next production in November.
N.O.D.A. Regional Representative – District 12.