THE 2012 Mananan Opera Festival is to present Verdi’s Rigoletto when it kicks off at the Erin Arts Centre on Friday, September 7.
Supported by the Isle of Man Arts Council, the tragic masterpiece will be performed nightly at 7.30pm over the weekend - until Sunday, September 9.
And those with a sense of adventure can travel in style onboard a special steam train leaving Douglas at 6pm for the Saturday night performance, which is supported by Tower Insurance in conjunction with the Isle of Man Railways.
It will be the first time the opera has been performed at the annual festival but at its first performance in Venice in 1851 it was greeted with wild enthusiasm.
Director of the festival and the Port Erin centre John Bethell said: ‘It has always been the policy of the festival to perform the operas in English and stage them at affordable prices without compromising quality on the stage. Since 1976, many distinguished artists and directors have performed at the centre, some gaining worldwide success in opera houses in the world today.’
He said: ‘Rigoletto is full of wonderful and memorable tunes such as the Duke’s aria La donna é Mobile.’
The character of Rigoletto will be sung by Craig Smith a role he has sung many times and only recently in Toyko. Born in Bolton, Craig trained at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. He sang his first big Verdi role, Nabucco at the Hersfeld Festival, in Germany, and since then has sung roles in Tosca, Carmen, La Traviata and Rigoletto. On the concert platform, he has worked with major British orchestras such as the Liverpool and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestras.
The Duke of Mantua will be played by John Pierce who last year represented his native country Wales at the Cardiff Singer of the World. Gilda will be played by Charlotte Kinder while Antonia Sotgiu will be dualling the roles of Maddalena and Giovanna, and island singer Niall Howell-Evans will be performing the role of Sparafucile.
‘And we welcome back Stefan Janski and Kevin Thraves,’ said Mr Bethell, ‘whose productions over the last few years have delighted and enchanted patrons who have attended, some of whom took the opportunity to try out their first visit to an opera and have become hooked.’ He added: ‘The festival is also pleased that the Ise of Man Railways are putting on a special train so patrons can relax and travel in style for an exclusive night of opera in Port Erin on the Saturday. A coach will meet patrons at Port Erin Station and take them to the centre and for their return journey back to Douglas.
‘There will be canapés and drinks from the onboard bar, with brandy and coffee for the return journey, and food will be available and sold separately. Patrons are encouraged on this occasion to wear dinner jackets and ladies to wear their finery.’
Festival patron Margaret Curphey added: ‘Verdi’s wonderfully dramatic opera Rigoletto has never been performed at our festival before and I think the intimacy of our theatre will actually enhance some of the spine chilling scenes in the opera. Once again, from our links with Royal Northern College of Music and a strong network of contacts, we have sourced some wonderful singers to perform for you this year. We will only have the usual short but very intensive week of rehearsals but I am sure this small cast will enjoy the exhilarating experience of working with Kevin and Stefan.’ On the technical side, the sets and props team consists of Angela Atkinson, Gloria Balakrishna, John Bethell, Meg McCourt and John Sheppard. Mike and Nora Lean are responsible for lighting and costumes respectively.
Tickets are £22 and available from the Erin Arts Centre on 832662.
Opera/train tickets are £35 and available on 600555.