Timeless opera is saved from doom at Warwick Arts Centre
Members of Warwick University’s student opera society, Opera Warwick, thought their first production of 2011 was doomed when the cast member playing the Count fell ill just three weeks before curtain up.
But, answering a call from the cast, professional baritone Richard Whitehouse rushed home early from a diving holiday in Thailand to play the role.
Richard, who teaches singing at the university’s music centre, not only learnt the role one week but even donated his fee for the production to the society.
He said: “Enthusing students about opera has always played a huge part in my singing career.
“Having performed in the world’s leading opera houses, it has been really eye-opening to see how this exciting production has taken shape.”
The production will be sung in English and uses a specially adapted translation by Vicar of Dibley writer and Radio 4’s Just A Minute regular, Kit Hasketh-Harvey.
Matching Richard’s generosity, Kit also donated the fee for his translation, saying of opera, that is important “to inspire talent while it’s young”.
Benjamin Hamilton, conductor of the production and president of Opera Warwick said: “Richard has not only saved our show, but we have all learnt from his wealth of professional experience.”
Opera Warwick’s interpretation of Mozart’s timeless masterpiece is set in a 1990s political powerhouse with a cast of currupt politicians prioritisiing personal desires over the well-being of their people.
The show follows the events of the somewhat unusual wedding day between two high-flying interns - smart, sexy Susanna and lad-about-town Figaro. The powerful leader, Count Almaviva, however, lusts after Susanna while the Fisrt Lady, the beautiful Countess, is left heart-broken.
Student director Felicity Green said: “Count Almaviva is a man in power used to getting just what he wants.
“Without thought of the consequences, he acts in his own best interest. Combining the power of Mozart’s every-dramatic score with a pure, wedding-cake-white set, we question how a powerful individual’s moral weakness can impact upon those around them.
“This is a question that has the same timelessness as this approachable opera - whether in 18th century Spain, 20th century Germany or in light of the recent expenses scandal in the UK.”
The show is on from tonight until Sunday at 7.30pm. For tickets, call 024 7652 4524 or go online.