Devon Opera

Professional Opera
For The South West

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Productions under Devon Opera

Leonel Pinheiro - Philip Smith - Dan Sinnott - Matthew Buswell
Roderick Hunt
Natasha Day
Leonel Pinheiro
Philip Smith
Alison Kettlewell - Leonel Pinheiro
Roderick Hunt - Alison Kettlewell
Natasha Day - Philip Smith
Verdi's Rigoletto
Aeolian Court
The Great Hall, Dartington
The Flavel, Dartmouth
10th - 14th October 2016
Directed by Ruth Bettesworth
Ruth Bettesworth
Project Music Director Natalie Burch
Natalie Burch

"Devon Opera, as if by magic, conjures up every year highly professional opera right on your door step. No mean feat.

This year they have pushed the boat out to present a full scale opera, Verdi's highly famous Rigoletto.

In the past they have chosen to give us mainly operatic extracts. So a brave choice to tackle a full length production.
I would say it offers a much more satisfying experience.

Verdi's opera has plenty of high drama together with a whole feast of familiar arias.
The plot is based around the degenerate court of the Duke of Mantua. Add in the toxic mix of love, jealousy, vengeance, murder and assassination.

The central characters, who drive the plot, give it all meaning, are Rigoletto, the court servant and his nestled away daughter Gilda. You need two strong, able performers to pull this off. Philip Smith and Natasha Day carried it all with ease and confidence. They matched terrific singing ability, hitting the whole range of highs and lows of the musical score, while capturing the roller coasting demands of their emotional journey.

A highlight of the performance is the wonderful, well recognised, second half quartet. This is Verdi at his complex, mesmerising best. The Duke, Leonel Pinheiro , who really grabbed the dark side of his role, is indoors with his latest female attraction, the sexy barmaid Alison Kettlewell. Watching from the outside is Rigoletto and his despairing daughter. Voices merge, but each one is engrossed in their own world. It was a sheer delight to both watch and listen.

Devon Opera performs in small spaces, with modest scenery and minus a chorus. It could be said the staging allows the singers to do what they do best. This group did just that. Supported by the very high quality piano accompaniment of music director, Natalie Burch. All brought altogether under the firm and assured direction of Ruth Bettesworth.

The one down side is the lack of chorus, or even a few extras. It means we miss out on getting a true feel for the depraved, indulgent behaviour which lies at the heart of the court of Mantra.

However, Devon Opera are to be celebrated for bringing a sure fire team of professional performers to very attractive performing spaces. The intimacy of the setting is in many ways a bit special, and very different from the usual opera set-up. The audience have ring-side seats to immerse themselves in the swirling plot."

Leon Winston

Leonel Pinheiro - Natalie Burch - Natasha Day - Julien Van Mellaerts
The Follies of Love
Ugbrooke Park
Saturday 23rd July 2016

"What an absolute triumph – the whole evening was magic"

"This was a magical evening, the best yet.

"Thank you Devon Opera for another outstanding evening at Ugbrooke House from such young, vibrant and talented singers and wonderful, assured musical accompaniment. The company is going from strength to strength and Rigoletto in the Autumn is an eagerly awaited treat : bravo"

"Once again you gathered some wonderful 'Voices' to produce an electrifying performance at St. Cyprian's Chapel last night...BRAVO!"

"A simply fantastic evening with first class singing, great acting and a wonderful accompanist"

"What magnificent singing! I'd heard Natasha and Leo before, both of whom were in great form last night, but I was also so impressed with Julien's voice. Add the talent of Natalie to the mix and it all combined to make a really magical evening"

"This is just a brief note to thank you for assembling such an enjoyable evening. The weather was of course kind but the highlight was the music and the delightful singers, beautifully accompanied. It was splendid way to spend a summer's evening and a great success with the audience"

"A magnificent feast of music in a wonderful venue for the concert"

"Just to say thank you for a lovely evening on Saturday, we really enjoyed the singing and the venue both were wonderful!"

Natasha Day
Natasha Day Soprano
Lynsey Docherty
Lynsey Docherty Soprano
Suzanne Manuell
Suzanne Manuell Soprano
Mathew Buswell
Mathew Buswell Bass Baritone
Timothy Connor
Timothy Connor Baritone
Nathan Morrison
Nathan Morrison Bass Baritone
Leonel Pinheiro
Leonel Pinheiro Tenor
>Joyce Clarke
Joyce Clarke Music Director/Pianist
Peter Clarke
Peter Clarke Artistic Director
Ruth Bettesworth
Ruth Bettesworth Director Acts 3 & 4 La Boheme
The first half of the production a selection of Arias from Puccini operas - Manon Laescaut, Tosca, La Boheme, Madama Butterfly, Edger, La Rondine, La Fanciulla del West and Turandot

Performed by
Natasha Day, Lynsey Docherty, Suzanne Manuell, Timothy Connor, Leonel Pinheiro, Pianist Joyce Clarke and Presenter Peter Clarke

The second half of the production
Acts 3 & 4 of La Boheme Pianist Joyce Clarke and Presenter Peter Clarke


Mimi - Natasha Day
Musetta - Lynsey Docherty
Rodolfo - Leonel Pinheiro
Marchello - Timothy Connor
Colline - Mattew Buswell
Schaunard - Nathan Morrison
La Boheme
The Passion of Puccini
Aeolian Court, Chudleigh
Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter
The Great Hall, Dartington
2nd - 8th October 2015

"What a treat. Opera up very close with a pretty rich feast of passion.

Devon Opera are out to fulfil their vision of presenting high quality opera in small, but attractive venues, aiming to provide an experience that gets the artistic juices running. On this showing they most certainly demonstrate that regional opera is alive and very well.

The programme was in two parts. To begin with we had a delightful introduction to some of the professional young artistes engaged this year with solo renditions from a selection of Puccini's operas. Not all of them so familiar. It was good to hear baritone Timothy Connor give quiet controlled voice to an aria from the rarely heard opera Edgar. Soprano Suzanne Manuel delighted her audience with confident and assured interpretations of the famous 'Vissi d'arte' from Tosca and 'Un bel di' from Madame Butterfly. All very ably accompanied by music director, Joyce Clarke

The second part of the programme was a brave shot at giving us Acts 3 and 4 of Puccini's most loved work, La Boheme. Now this really is drama. Set in 1830's wintry Paris it is a story of poverty and desperation focussed on the lives of very young people. These two acts move remorselessly to its tragic, magnetic end.

An opera is normally witnessed on a large scale stage. What brings a surge of unexpected power to the small scale production is the fact that we watch at close hand, we are witnesses to the very size and reality of the world the characters actually inhabit. There was excellent detail given to the attic apartment, the choice of down beat costumes and atmospheric lighting. Plus, and by gosh this is a plus, the age of the performers was spot on to the people they were playing. Not only did they look the part, but they played it with an intensity and vulnerability that added to the impact of the overall experience

Leonel Pinheiro as the love stricken Rodolfo and Natasha Day as the fragile Mimi grabbed the opportunity, with fine voices, and clear high notes, to capture the final, hopeless moments of their love. They were accompanied by the determined, strong-voiced Marcello of Timothy Connor, Lynsey Docherty's well drawn brassy character of Musetta and the strong friendship of support supplied by Nathan Morrison and Matt Buswell. I particularly enjoyed Matt's bass baritone delivery of the farewell to his overcoat.

To deliver opera well needs good acting as well as good voices. This was achieved in spades. Ruth Bettesworth, as director, ensured there was a clear understanding of the lives of each of the characters and the intensity of each moment was given full emotional punch. Also the limited space, which included dance and duel, was imaginatively used to add colour to the strong story line

A stated aim of Devon Opera is to bring opera to new audiences, 'first timers'. If that is so then I suggest additional thought is given to marketing, making in-roads to attracting young people and the cost of tickets."

Leon Winston

Suzanne Manuell - Soprano and Anando Mukerjee - Tenor
Opera in the Park
Lustleigh Village Showground
Saturday 29th August 2015

"Opera in the Park" at the Lustleigh Village Showground was an opportunity to build our audience by bringing an opera concert to a new area. The response to this initiative far exceeded our expectations and was not only a great success artistically but also with over 100 people attending, many of whom had not been to one of our performances before, our objective was achieved.

Robert Hough
Ugbrooke Park
Natasha Day - Soprano and Leonel Pinheiro - Tenor
A Night at the Opera
Ugbrooke Park
Saturday 25th July 2015

"Everyone who attended thoroughly enjoyed what I believe was one of the best performances ever put on by Devon Opera at Ugbrooke Park, the star qualities shown by both Natasha Day and Leonel Pinheiro were exceptional and the accompanying pianist and presenter Joyce and Peter Clarke received many accolades from members of the audience in their own right. The night was a complete success."

Clive Eden
Sense Group Administrator
Budleigh Festival
Alison Kettlewell - Philip Smith - Laure Meloy - Anando Mukerjee - Alison Roddy - Mervyn Hayes - Joyce Clarke
A Night at the Opera
Budleigh Music Festival
Saturday 18th July 2015

"Thank you for your ever delightful company on Saturday at Budleigh. To say it was superb would be an understatement. Everything was just glorious." NF

"Dear Robert, please pass on the thanks of all the BMF team and audience for Saturday's gala evening. It was just what we needed to finish off a great Festival." John Pearce Chairman Budleigh Music Festival

"Huge congratulations on another superb concert last evening. Devon Opera took Budleigh Salterton by storm !! Well done - all of your performers were magnificent and there were many, many compliments." GD

"We gave that record Budleigh Festival audience a quality performance that was strong in every section and their enthusiastic applause from the beginning to the end (a standing ovation by some!) showed their sincere appreciation." PC

"The singing was in the stratosphere". CR
James and Philip
James Cheung and Philip Smith
Concert Sold Out
Winterreise (Winter Journey)
Aeolian Court
Friday 30th January 2015

"On a crisp winter evening, Devon Opera's 'Friends' group, and other guests, packed the music room at Aeolian Court for a wonderfully atmospheric recital by baritone Philip Smith and pianist James Cheung. Schubert's great Winterreise song cycle gripped us throughout, thanks to beautifully shaded performances from both artistes. As the tale of lost love unfolded, words and music together brought out vividly the sights and sounds of the poet's midwinter landscape, accentuating both his experience and ours, and drawing us ever deeper into the heart-rending romantic tragedy."

'A most wonderful, wonderful evening. I shall always remember it;
thank you
.' B.A..
The Magic of Mozart - a commissioned production with staged extracts including the last scene from Don Giovanni.

Opera galas at Bovey Castle and Ugbrooke Park.

"A Typical Opera Romance" - a specially commissioned short opera production at Aeolian Court and Bovey Castle.

Viva Verdi – a commissioned opera production with staged extracts/scenes from Verdi's best known operas.

In addition two fund raising opera galas.

Past productions under New Devon Opera

2012 Madam Butterfly – Puccini

2011 Carmen – Bizet

2010 La traviata –Verdi

2009 La bohème – Puccini

2008 Rigoletto - Verdi and A King's Ransom – Hawes, Jose Cura opera project

2007 Tosca – Puccini and Noye's Fludde -Britten

2006 The Barber of Seville - Rossini

2005 The Magic Flute - Mozart
© 2017 Devon Opera/3B Designs
Patron: Chevalier José Cura
Vice Patrons: Lord and Lady Clifford of Chudleigh , Mrs Beatrice d'Aft, Mrs Anthony Walters
Trustees: Robert Hough (Chairman), Roderick Hunt, Gavin Dunbar, Roger Randall, Chris Palmer, Clare Lillington
Devon Opera is a charity and non-profit making organisation limited by guarantee
Charity No 1114768 and Company No. 05252578
Registered Address: Aeolian Court, Chudleigh, Devon TQ13 0EE
Company Secretary : Burges Salmon
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