Plotting a metaphorical course around the world

Andrea Tweedale (left) and Emma Magenty of Sheffield City Opera
Andrea Tweedale (left) and Emma Magenty of Sheffield City Opera

SHEFFIELD City Opera is travelling – metaphorically speaking, over vast distances!

A week on Saturday, June 4, the company is at St John’s Church, Ranmoor, going Around the World in Eight Operas.

The trip begins in Japan, in the town of Titipu to perform two choruses, Miya Sama and Gentlemen of Japan, Yum-Yum’s aria, The Sun Whose Rays, and Three Little Maids from School from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado

From there it’s roughly south-west to the shores of Ceylon (Sri Lanka since 1972) for four excerpts from Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers, including everyone’s favourite tenor/ baritone duet, In the Depths of the Temple, plus the two choruses from act one and Leila’s aria from act two.

Then it’s due north on a westerly slant to the colder climes of St Petersburg in Russia to drop in on Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin for the Waltz Scene with the chorus, Lensky singing his famous ‘farewell’ aria and the self-absorbed Onegin, his act one aria rejecting love and marriage.

From there it’s a long drop back in a southerly direction to Rome for Cavaradossi’s act one aria from Puccini’s Tosca, Recondita Armonia, the heroine’s Vissi d’Arte and the act one finale with Scarpia musing on her against the sounds of the Te Deum.

Egypt is the next port of call for Verdi’s Aida to hear the chorus getting their teeth into the choral music of the Grand March, Aida singing Ritorna Vincitor and the act three duet with her father Amonasro.

The next destination, England, offers a surprising but welcome opera to represent it, Britten’s coronation opera Gloriana, and the choral dances from act two with the solo bits.

After which, it’s off to America for, curiously, Leonard Bernstein’s Candide which, although it travels widely, doesn’t actually have North America on its plot itinerary.

Never mind, it affords an unscheduled trip to Paris for the Old Lady’s I Am Easily Assimilated and Cunegonde’s Glitter and Be Gay and the outskirts of Venice for Make Our Garden Grow.

The eighth opera takes us back to ancient Egypt, Mozart’s Magic Flute, the excerpts from it been undecided at the time of writing as SCO was auditioning parts last Sunday for the company’s staging of it at the University Drama Studio, September 7-10.

Gavin Usher, SCO’s music director, and Gavin Magenty have devised the Around the World in Eight Operas programme and the latter says: “This is a concert with a difference that marks new territory for SCO.”

As is his imaginative want, he is making minimalist use of choreography and props for some of the extracts. Among the soloists are Andrea Tweedale, Emma Magenty, Johanna Shacklock, Matthew Palmer, Andrew Lockwood, Christine Ayres, Mary McCready and Nigel Rothery.

The concert begins at 7.30pm and tickets, £8, are available in advance by calling (0114) 269 4958, or on the door.