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Welcome to
Somerset Opera 

Announcements of proposed Somerset Opera productions for 2016/7
and a table of forthcoming productions by other companies can now be viewed on the 
'Forthcoming Productions' page.


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The Maxwell Masterclass

Saturday 13 June 2015 


Wellington School, Wellington, Somerset, TA21 8NT


See 'Young Singers' for more details

Application form for singers - click here



(sung in English)


Written by Emanuel Schikaneder - Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


Director: Hilary Marshall - Musical Director: Andrew Carter


July 14th, 15th, 17th & 18th 2015
King's College Theatre, Taunton



Review of Somerset Opera’s Production of ‘Macbeth’ at King’s College, Taunton

Tuesday 15th July 2014


The thought of Somerset Opera tackling one of Verdi’s great dramatic operas was an intriguing one.  This is grand opera in every sense of the word and this reviewer wondered whether it could be done outside of a grand setting.  The studio theatre of King’s College is an intimate space and some ingenious adjustments would have to be made.  Director Sebastian Petit’s solution was clever and incredibly successful. The challenge of scenery was replaced by the creative use of lighting (together with the judicious use of a bit of smoke) and that allowed the audience to focus on the characters, the drama and the music. The minimalist approach was a triumph and an object lesson in the adage of less is more. 


Oliver Gibbs in the title role tackled the vocally demanding part with only the slightest sign of tiring in the second act but then produced plenty in reserve for his final scene. He sang with elegant beauty throughout but with the necessary dramatic attack when called upon.  Mari Wyn Williams was brilliantly cast as Lady Macbeth. Her powerful bright mezzo voice could cut steel on a cold day and she left us in no doubt as to who was in charge whenever she was on stage.  Roderick Hunt was a sonorous Banquo who relished the bass line of his part whilst tenor Dean Ward turned on the ardent charm of his Macduff.  Smaller parts were admirably delivered by Darren Chalmers, Toni Bishop, Harold Mead, Stephen Grimshaw and Stuart Symonds. Particularly effective was the treatment of the three witches which Verdi multiplied into a whole chorus. Their goulish costumes and expressive movement, which could have been the cause of much tittering, was utterly convincing.  The chorus and young performers were outstanding.  They produced a sound worthy of any professional chorus. My only quibble of the production was the inclusion of the ballet.  This was included for ‘commercial reasons’ during a revision for the Paris Opera in 1865. It interrupts the dramatic flow and adds nothing of any worth.  That said, the young dancers did not disgrace themselves with Balanchine-style choreography.  This reviewer was pleased when the opera proper was resumed!      


One of the biggest challenges was the scaling down of a big orchestra to forces suited to a small venue.  This was achieved admirably by Chris Cooper. Set off to one side, the Italian-style band included all of the elements of a full-orchestra.  At no point did you feel that the music had been watered down.  The singers were well integrated with the orchestra and the balance between both excellent. Much of this is to the credit of Christopher Balls’ conducting which was confident and well-judged in all respects.  Somerset Opera and Sebastian Petit should be congratulated in their ambition and in their success of producing a grand opera without compromise. 


Wayne Bennett

Somerset Opera has a policy of casting roles within the society if we can. But we run open auditions and welcome new members from Somerset and beyond, so please get in touch - we'd be delighted to hear you. For budding and seasoned professionals, we welcome your CVs but would only be able to pay more than basic expenses in exceptional circumstances. Our main opera production each year is invariably performed in full costume, with orchestra. If you are looking to perform a particular role in a friendly environment, whilst striving for the highest possible standard, please do get in touch. We can generally arrange accommodation for those travelling from distance.

When auditioning please bring a prepared piece to sing.



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Opera excerpt of the week
Finale from Treemonisha(Joplin)


Operetta excerpt of the week
Finale Act One from Der lustige Krieg (Johann Strauss)


Musical Comedy excerpt of the week
Who's that woman?" from Follies (1987) (Sondheim)


Ballet excerpt of the week
Pas de deux - Act Two from Papillon (Offenbach)


Counter reset 29th October 2011



Patron: Donald Maxwell                                                        President: Lord Skelmersdale