Feast of arias from Camilla

TONY COOPER A night at the opera is on the bill for the Norwich Philharmonic Society's penultimate concert of its current season in St Andrew's Hall, Norwich, this Saturday.


A night at the opera is on the bill for the Norwich Philharmonic Society's penultimate concert of its current season in St Andrew's Hall, Norwich, this Saturday, March 17 (7.30pm), conducted by David Dunnett and starring soprano Camilla Roberts.

Recently Roberts joined Welsh National Opera as an associate artist, where her roles have included Micäela in Carmen and the Flower Maiden in Parsifal as well as understudying the roles of Tatyana in Eugene Onegin and Diane in Iphigénie en Tauride. Last year she recorded a CD with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Viennese songs.

The concert, featuring the Norwich Philharmonic Orchestra and the Norwich Philharmonic Chorus, features a treasure trove of beautiful arias and choruses from some of the world's best-loved operas and gets under way with the exhilarating overture to Prince Igor by the revered 19th-century romantic Russian composer, Alexander Borodin, completed after his death by Glazunov.

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Two of the “big hitters” from the 19th century - Puccini and Verdi - get a good share of the spoils with six works shared between them. Puccini's O My Beloved Father (from Gianni Schicchi) and Musetta's Waltz Song (La Bohème) will be joined by a quartet of Verdi favourites: The Triumphal Scene and Grand March (from Aida), The Anvil Chorus (Il Trovatore), The Matadors' Chorus (La Traviata) plus the much-loved Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves (Nabucco).

Mozart is included in this luscious programme with a lovely and calming aria from The Marriage of Figaro - Porgi, amor. It was the first of three operas in he collaborated with the librettist Lorenzo da Ponte. It introduces the Countess in her bedroom praying to the god of love to restore her husband's affections.

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In English-speaking countries, Dvorak is associated mainly with orchestral, chamber and choral music, yet he wrote 10 operas. The most successful and popular is Rusalka, his penultimate work in the genre, first performed in 1901. Based on folk legend, the plot traces a water sprite's doomed love for a Prince who swims in her lake. The Song to the Moon - the best-known number in the opera - sees the heroine calls to the moon to tell her beloved that she waits for him.

Dido's Lament from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas is also included on the bill and Wagner's there, too, with The Procession and Choral from Die Meistersinger, his only mature comic opera. It tells of the young knight Walther seeking to become a Mastersinger.

Completing the programme is the Easter Hymn from Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana - a worldwide favourite - and the Waltz Scene from Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin.

But, if this is not enough, there's the Soldier's Chorus from Gounod's Faust, to savour. It's the composer's most successful opera based on the legend of the embittered old scholar who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for restored youth. It's a crowd-pleaser of the highest order!

t Tickets £13.50 to £9.50, are available from Prelude Records, St Giles', Norwich, 01603 628319

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