Opera East Productions

ALISON CROOSE Burnham Thorpe Church

ALISON CROOSE

After 30 years of staging high-quality classical music, Burnham Market Concerts took an ambitious leap forward by adding opera to their programme – and what a good step it proved to be.

A double bill of kitchen capers – The Wandering Scholar by Gustav Holst and A Dinner Engagement by Lennox Berkeley – provided a lively start to this year's series, and the high standards set by Opera East guaranteed success.

It was a bold move, but with excellent voices complemented by a first-rate orchestra – and all benefiting from the church's fine acoustic – the audience of more than 200 appreciated it.

Both works are comic gems offering music rich in variety which conductor Oliver Gooch delivered to great effect despite the logistical problems – namely pillars – posed by the ecclesiastical setting.

Holst's work, set in a French farmhouse in the 13th century and premiered in 1934, made a tasty aperitif for A Dinner Engagement, a 1950s version of Keeping Up Appearances, in which the cast exploited the delights of the work's very English humour.

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