A Yorkshire Carmen


‘Carmen’ presented by Focus Opera with the Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra as part of Le Grand Depart

Our production of Carmen was commissioned by Kirklees as part of Le Grand Depart in July 2014, and was presented in conjunction with the inspirational Keith Cheetham and his Focus Opera group with whom the orchestra had already worked on three successful earlier projects. Sadly, it turned out to be Keith’s swan song and indeed was a very fitting tribute to a very special man. The setting was a Spanish village in the 1940s with supporting cast of orchestral gypsies, who as usual rose to the occasion, their colourful and varied costumes decorating the stage with originality and brilliance as well as accompanying the opera in style.

The supporting Spanish village ambience was also aided by many props which were begged, borrowed and or even possibly stolen, from charity and secondhand shops – probably the owners of the various bed linen and other items wouldn’t have expected to find their wares festooned high up on the stage in front of the fine organ! The orchestra is indeed grateful that so many additional people and organisations entered into the spirit of the production.

The performance was a resounding success, not least because of our enthusiastic audience for whom the opportunity to dine royally in the Town Hall area before watching the action from their tables, and at the same time enjoying the delights of an ever open bar, was an innovative idea – a departure from the normal but very much appreciated nevertheless. Other audience members were seated in the balcony to watch the performance. The diners were treated to some French café style music from Michele Northam on violin and Stephen Wild on accordion whilst they were dining.

by Christine Stanton (viola)