Falstaff in CambridgeInterview
Established in 1887, the Cambridge Philharmonic is one of Britain’s oldest and most established musical societies. Singers like Kathleen Ferrier, Peter Pears, and Philip Langridge all performed there, and in the past decade under Principal Conductor Timothy Redmond, the Philharmonic has presented in-concert opera performances as part of their season.
“Over the past few years our opera-in-concert performances of repertoire from Carmen to Candide and from Peter Grimes to La bohème have become ever more elaborate!” says Redmond. “Last year, we decided to take the staging element one stage further, and Martin Duncan re-imagined his brilliant Opera North production of Jonathan Dove’s The Adventures of Pinocchio for performance at West Road.”
In a nod to 2016’s Shakespeare 400 celebrations, this year the Philharmonic presents Verdi’s Falstaff, directed by Daisy Evans. “Verdi is a composer close to our hearts at Cambridge Phil,” says Redmond.
Falstaff is one performance only, in December 10 at West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge. “There is something very exciting about staging grand opera in an intimate venue,” says Redmond, “that brings a power and intensity to the performances that one can sometimes miss in a large opera house. With an orchestra of 80, a chorus of nearly 100, and an international cast of soloists, it’s an exciting sound!”
The cast of Falstaff is a mix of established and rising artists. Bass-baritone Keel Watson sings the title role, along with Mark Stone as Ford and Michelle Walton as Alice. Redmond adds, “We have three very exciting young singers joining us – French soprano, Margo Arsane, and New Zealand mezzo, Bianca Andrew, both of whom are in the final year of the Opera Course at the Guildhall School and the Welsh tenor, Elgan Llyr Thomas, who is an Emerging Artist at Scottish Opera. We very much look forward to working again with Philip Sheffield, Peter van Hulle and Matthew Hargreaves.”