OPERA NOVA came to Guisborough’s St Nicholas Hall last Saturday evening to perform semi-staged extracts from Verdi’s best loved operas including Aida, Il Trovatore, Falstaff, Rigoletto and La Traviata.

Opera Nova is an amateur opera group founded in the 1960s and sing and stage operas up to a professional standard. Their main aim has been to make opera appealing to local audiences and singers.

The performance started with Brindisi from La Traviata with Paulina Rossi as Violetta and Aslan Phelps as Alfredo. As part of a drinking song, this was very much a lively affair and the singing expressed a much merry air. The atmosphere changed next with the Anvil Song from Il Trovatore, which is where a group of gypsies sing a rousing chorus to greet the new day.

Arias from Rigoletto, Caro nome che il mio cor, and La donna e mobile followed, succeeded by the well-known Triumphal March from Aida where the Egyptian populace welcomes the victorious Radames. Not a spectacle but musically powerful.

After the interval, there were Arias from I Vespri Siciliana and Sull fil d’unsoffio from Falstaff. The mood then changed to a love duet from Otello with Paul Smith and Mary Colfield as Desdemona. The male role has been filled of late by a Black tenor by the Royal Opera House.

The performance finale was the Act 2 from La Traviata with Violetta (Mary Cofield), Alfreda (Alan Phelps) and Germont (Bill Lewis) and others. The assembled crowd sing of their compassion for Violetta, a powerful scene with passion, gaming, reputations blackened, and love expressed. Violetta and Alfredo are living together in domestic bliss. Alfredo’s father, Giorgio Germont, comes to plead with Violetta, asking her to end her relationship with his son and the duet in Act 2 with Germont is the heart and soul of the opera. This was the opportunity for Opera Nova to express all these passions in the final scene which they performed excellently.

The musical director is Marco Romano, who has appeared with many orchestras, and the artistic director is Penelope Randall-Davis, whose work includes teaching stage-craft to professional singers. The accompanist on the piano was Lauren Gilbert, a freelance musician and music teacher, joining the company earlier this year.

This was a splendid performance of these vibrant works, full of stirring choruses, passionate love duets and popular arias, and Guisborough has been fortunate to attract such talent to the area for the second time with Opera Nova.