Preston Opera is 50 years old this year and to mark the anniversary the company will recreate their very first production at Preston Guild Hall next week.
The company was started in 1965 by Frank Salter when he gathered together a few fellow opera enthusiasts to prepare a performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. This performance took place in 1966 in the former Harris College.
Early performances took place in the Playhouse with a piano accompaniment, but such was their ambition that in 1975 the company put on its first production – Verdi’s Nabucco – in the new Preston Charter Theatre, complete with orchestra.
Verdi’s first major operatic success, the opera tells the story of Nabucco’s (Nebuchadnezzar’s) destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and exile of the Israelites to Babylon.
Caught up in the conflict is Ishmael, Captain of the Hebrew army, who is in love with Nabucco’s daughter, Fenena.
To further complicate matters Nabucco’s other daughter, Abigail, has designs on Ishmael and is prepared to use whatever means are necessary to get him.
The opera is full of great drama and wonderful tunes, the most famous being the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, which became an unofficial national anthem for Italy at a time of oppression.
The company and orchestra will be conducted by music director Dr Colin Beeson; the producer is Diane Mackley, who has directed several memorable operas for Preston Opera.
There will be three performances at the Preston Charter Theatre from April 23 to 25. Performances 7.30pm.
Tickets £16 (concs £14, children £7) from the Guild Hall Box Office 01772 804444, Preston Opera website www.prestonopera.org.uk or by calling 07709 872773.
l For a look back at the company’s first 50 years see next Wednesday’s RETRO in the LEP.