Opera Restor'd

ALISON CROOSE Guildhall of St George, King’s Lynn


The scene would have done any self-respecting pantomime proud. But these singing characters in outrageous costumes and exaggerated make-up were taking part in an opera.

This was entertainment 18th century-style and there was nothing stuffy about this opera in the expert hands of the touring company, which specialises in re-creating English music theatre of that and the preceding century.

The authenticity of on-stage action was enhanced by the six appropriately-attired musicians in the orchestra pit.

Opera Restor'd made a welcome return to the festival with a double bill, Two Funerals and a Wedding.

But before the farce of a masque engulfed the stage, the audience was introduced to the company's impressive sets and rich costumes through Peleus and Thetis, a work by William Boyce drawn from Greek mythology.

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The performance set the standard that underlies the group's high ideals – but it did not prepare the audience for the spectacle to follow when the singers showed their versatility with a transformation to the overt comedy of John Frederick Lampe's Pyramus and Thisbe.

In their delightfully excessive costumes, the cast enacted the bizarre tale in the required fashionable Italian style, despite their characters' anxiety to project their English talents.