Eastern Opera

MICHAEL DRAKE Assembly House, Norwich

MICHAEL DRAKE

> Assembly House, Norwich

Opera not for you? Probably because of preconceived ideas that it's elitist, expensive, exclusive, in a foreign language and probably boring. But your world could be expanded, and that's the raison d'etre of Eastern Opera, who provide a gentle entrée.

So it was when the company presented Not Strictly Ballroom as guests sat, wine glasses charged, at tables in the Music Room.

The singers – glamorous soprano Bibi Heal, full-voiced tenor Jonathan Stoughton and wide-ranging baritone Jockem van Ast – accompanied by pianist Simon Lepper opened with a trio from La Traviata.

Favourite operatic numbers succeeded each other – Gounod's Jewel Song, the Toreador Song from Carmen, the Barber of Seville's Largo al factotum… and surely some converts to a full production were made after excerpts from Mozart's Marriage of Figaro.

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All were enthusiastically introduced by the artists with precis of the storylines until the Champagne Chorus, from Strauss's Die Fledermaus, completed an evening full of beautiful song, splendidly performed with an entertaining intro to the world of opera. Still think you wouldn't like it? Give Eastern Opera a whirl at their next gig on May 7 at the same venue.