Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ will come to life as Preston’s opera returns for the first time in three years

Bizet’s catchy song ‘Toreador’ will resonate in Preston as talented opera performers return to the spotlight with their first show since 2019.

Preston Opera and the Preston Opera Orchestra will bring Bizet’s Carmen to life at the Fulwood Academy in June. Musical director and conductor Helen Harrison told Lancs Live that the opera group are very happy to be back on stage after an enforced hiatus due to Covid.

She said: ‘We were about to go to rehearsal in 2020, when Boris announced the lockdown and I remember people saying, it’ll be fine if we meet on Thursday, and I was thinking, no, that’s not is not the case! Then we thought we’d be back, so we rescheduled it – and it’s easy to forget how many times we tried!

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“And now it’s finally happening, and it’s really exciting. We had a little gig in October as part of the Preston Arts Festival where we came back together and it sounded fantastic. I’ve never heard the chorus sound so good because we’re so happy to be back and you really appreciate what we can do that we weren’t allowed to do.

In what will be the band’s first full-scale opera since 2019’s performance of Verdi’s Macbeth, the performance will bring to life much-loved arias, glamorous spectacle and a full 22-piece opera orchestra. Helen added: “We love to perform, but we are an opera company. What we live for is putting on fully staged productions with fantastic directors and costumes, and one of the crown jewels of Preston Opera House is that we have a full orchestra, an opera was written to be on stage with live singing, with a live orchestra.”

The group’s last performance was in 2019, she said, and the group was thrilled to be back in the swing of opera. She added: “If someone had said when we did Verdi’s Macbeth that it would be 2022 when we would play again because there would be this pandemic, we would have laughed at them.

Musical Director and Conductor Helen Harrison

“It’s going to be the lights, the staging, the costumes, and it’s Carmen, whose tunes everyone knows. You can’t go to Carmen and not stomp out!

“I truly believe that everyone deserves the chance to go see great music and this great theatre. Everyone loves musical theatre, and that’s it, except it has a kinda name chic.

“The group has existed for 50 years; it’s really unique to have something so special in the city. There’s a lot of support for people who read music and people who don’t. And then, of course, we have our principals, many of whom are professional singers, and the quality of the singing is incredible.

Preston Opera will play
Preston Opera to perform Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ in June

Helen is Music Director of the Blackpool Symphony Orchestra and the Young Sinfonia, which is the Royal Northern Sinfonia’s Youth Orchestra, as well as conductor of the Northern Opera Group and the Lytham Choral Society. She added: “It’s a fantastic staging, it’s a 22-piece orchestra, which you don’t see a lot, great music, really fantastic singing and tunes, so we really hope people will be supporting us for the first time in three years, with live music and live action.”

Preston Opera and the Preston Opera Orchestra will perform Bizet’s “Carmen” at the Fulwood Academy on Thursday June 2 at 7:15 p.m., Friday June 3 at 7:15 p.m. and Saturday June 4 at 2:30 p.m. For more information and to book tickets, click hereE-mail [email protected]or click on here.

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