St Albans Chamber Opera show their comic side

PUBLISHED: 10:01 01 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:36 06 May 2010

YOU could say that St Albans Chamber Opera s latest production was a load of nonsense and no-one would really mind. For its double bill of two one-act operas at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans last week was exactly that. But although Cox and Box, t

YOU could say that St Albans Chamber Opera's latest production was a load of nonsense and no-one would really mind.

For its double bill of two one-act operas at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans last week was exactly that.

But although Cox and Box, the comic opera Arthur Sullivan wrote before he teamed up with Gilbert, and Offenbach's Here Comes the Groom are two relatively minor works they made for a splendid evening of fun.

Chamber Opera chose the original version of Cox and Box, designed for just three voices accompanied by a piano, for its production and the trio, Alan French as Bouncer the scheming landlord, and Warren Albers and David Fletcher as Cox and Box, his two tenants who are unaware that they are both renting the same room.

The three singers, accompanied by pianist Julian Barber, produced a delightful first half with some very good singing, particularly in the military-style trios.

Here Comes the Groom, an updated version of Un Mari à la Porte, had been rewritten by Chamber Opera members Bob Niblett and Jean Kestner and was packed with good humour and fun.

Rebecca Muhley as Susan, the bride, and Penny Grey as Rosalind the bridesmaid both demonstrated that they had excellent voices in roles which demanded technical ability while Warren Albers as a composer who arrives on the scene in a rather unusual situation, together with David Fletcher in the role of groom both added to the delights of the evening.

Throughout both operas Julian Barber proved to be an excellent accompanist, particularly in the overture to the second half.

Chamber Opera's annual appearances at the Maltings Arts Theatre has become a firm favourite with audiences and last week's double bill can only help to ensure a very good audience when the next production comes around.

JOHN MANNING

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