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Verdi's Opera - La Traviata in a new, OUTRAGEOUS english translation

Performing Arts of Penang from 22nd – 23rd November 2012
PJ Live Arts from 25th November – 9th December 2012
IPOH Kinta River Front Hotel - 4th December 2012
(Building Fund for St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Ipoh)

Roland  MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS supplied by
Roland Music Development Centre (Music School) at Jaya One

Performed by The Merry Opera Company
Presented by Gardner & WIfe Theatre Produced by Natalie Chong

The Merry Opera's LA TRAVIATA One of Britain's best small opera companies brought us one of opera's best known classics - Verdi's Opera LA TRAVIATA. Set in modern London, and performed in English, they received rave reviews (And here, too!) Traveling first to Penang Performing Arts Centre, then back to PJ Live Arts, they also performed to an Ipoh audience of over 800 as a fund-raiser for St. Andrew's Church, Ipoh. Musical instruments for the show were supplied by Roland Music Development Centre (Music School) at Jaya One.

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SYNOPSISSung with spirit… it's thumbs up to the little cabaret band working all night with the oompah. The Times

Great singing… near flawless technique and an unusually expressive voice… haunting and memorable. Timeout

La Traviata is simply the most famous romantic opera ever - told using some of the most recognisable tunes in classical music. A very beautiful and very young woman (usually sung by some one who is neither) falls head over heels in love with a very handsome young man (also usually sung by... right, you got it!). This UK production is set in modern London, in English, and sung by singers who are actually the right age, and pretty cute! Come, be swept away as Verdi would have wanted!
The Merry Opera Company
Merry Opera aims to widen the audience for opera and at the same time to provide a training ground for up-and-coming professionals of any age and nationality. There are many singers – technically adept and with a flair for performance - who are busy building a singing career while earning a living.

Over the last five years, the Merry Opera has staged 200 performances, reaching an audience of over 20,000 people across southern England, Greater and Central London. The company has trained – and paid – over 80 performers and production personnel under the tutelage of stage and music directors of international standing. This year, they're touring La Traviata and a revival of last year's staged version of Handel's Messiah.

Merry Opera's adaptations are intended for people who love music and beautiful singing but who may be intimidated (or bored?) by "high culture" – people who want "a good night out at the opera", not "a night at the opera, because it's good for you".
PLEASE NOTE: For an opera to be presented on consecutive nights, there are two singers
for each of the major roles. In alphabetical order:
Claire Egan VIOLETTA - Claire Egan
New Zealand soprano Claire Egan studied at the Cardiff International Academy of Voice, and as part of English National Opera's Opera Works artists. Recent roles include Bretonne (La Cour de Céimène / Wexford Festival Opera, Ireland), Donna Anna (Don Giovanni / Opera Up Close, Gilda (Rigoletto/Opera à la Carte UK / Luxembourg), Soho Theatre, London and Woodhouse Music Festival, UK), Carolina (Il Matrimonio Segreto / Festival Opera Barga, Italy). Claire was the winner of the 28th Premio Lirico Internazionale Piero Boni competition in Italy, a Solti-Te Kanawa Accademia scholar, and a McDonalds Aria finalist - performing at the Sydney Opera House. Claire studies in London with Yvonne Kenny. Future engagements include Königin der Nacht, Die Zauberflöte and Countess, Le Nozze di Figaro.
Anna JerucVIOLETTA - Anna Jeruć-Kopeć
Anna is from Poland and has won many vocal competitions, including International Voice Competition Duszniki Zdrój (3rd Prize), 2003; Competition for Young Opera Singers Katowice (3rd Prize), 2002; Suwalki Vocal Competition (2nd Prize), 2001; Halska Competition Wroclaw (Winner). She has worked for various opera companies and festivals in Europe such as Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival (dir. Rolf Beck), Wratislavia Cantans (dir. Paul McCreesh), Heritage Opera, Opera London, Merry Opera, CCO, Opera Nova, Harrow Opera, Imperial Productions and Atheneum Theatre. Future work include Kate Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly for Opera Brava and Opera Galas / Traviata tour in Asia for European Chamber Opera.
Robin BaileyALFREDO (AL) - Robin Bailey
Robin trained at the Royal Academy of Music. Operatic roles include Rodolpho in the Olivier award winning La Bohème (Soho Theatre / OperaUpClose), Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni / Soho Theatre / OperaUpClose), Aberle (Piccard in Space / BBC concert orchestra / QEH) Nanki-poo (The Mikado / Charles Court Opera), Nemorino (L'Elisir D'amore / Hampstead Garden Opera), Count Almaviva (The Barber of Seville / OperaUpClose), Orestes/ Achilles (La Belle Hélène / Troy Boy / Merry Opera) & Don Gaston (Die Drei Pintos / Bloomsbury Theatre/UCL Opera). He has attended the 'Les Azuriales programme' in Nice and was awarded the 'Under 27 Young Artist's prize'. He is continuing his studies with Robert Dean and will play Fenton in Verdi's Falstaff this summer for Iford Arts Festival.
Joe MorganALFREDO (AL) - Joe Morgan
Joe graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama having studied with David Pollard. Previous rôles include Tom Rakewell (cover) and Vanderdendur for Welsh National Youth Opera, Figaro (Barber of Seville) and Pluto (Orpheus in the Underworld) both with Unexpected Opera, Nemorino (L'elisir d'amore / Opera at Bearwood) Jupiter (Semele / Opera in Space), Paris and both Ajaxes ((La Belle Hélène / Troy Boy / Merry Opera), The Defendant (Trial by Jury / Opera Minima) and First Armed Man -cover and Second Priest – cover (The Magic Flute / Garsington Festival Opera).
Matthew QuirkGERMONT (JERMAN) - Matthew Quirk
After a long business career, Matthew began training as a singer in 2004 & now studies with Josephine Veasey. Roles include: Frank (Fledermaus / Alternative Opera), Polyphemus (Acis & Galatea / New Sussex Chorus), First Priest & Orator (The Magic Flute), Kecal (Bartered Bride), Raimbaud(Count Ory), Leporello (Don Giovanni) all for Matchbox Opera, Bartolo (The Barber of Seville) and Jupiter (Orpheus in the Underworld) both for Unexpected Opera, The Old Man (Bloch's Macbeth / Bloomsbury Theatre / UCL Opera), Calchas & Agammenon (La Belle Hélène / Troy Boy / Merry Opera), bass soloist in various semi-staged productions of Handel's Messiah.
Stephen John SvanholmGERMONT (JERMAN) - Stephen John Svanholm
Stephen comes from a musical family, being the grandson of Swedish heldentenor Set Svanholm. He studied a postgraduate on the opera course at the Royal Northern College of Music. He has performed professionally the roles of Schaunard, Figaro, Belcore, Donner, Silvio, Falke, Dancairo, Germont, Masetto, Fiorello, Riff, The Bonze, Prince Yamadori, Brabant Noble, Alfio and Count Ceprano for companies as diverse as Opera Della Luna, Carl Rosa Opera, Raymond Gubbay Productions, Pavilion Opera, Opera de Bauge (France), Riverside Opera, Stanley Hall Opera, New Cornwall Opera, OperaUpClose, The Swedish Opera, and Regina Theatre in Stockholm. This year (2011-2012) Stephen is a member of English National Opera's prestigious Opera Works scheme.
Dario DugandzićBARON - Dario Dugandzić
graduated in 2009 from Trinity College of Music where credits included Guillermo (scenes), Commissaire (Dialogues des Carmélites), Carl Magnus, Peachum. Roles since include Death (Der Kaiser von Atlantis), Poeta (Prima la Musica...), Ed Harris (When a Man Knows), Simone, Nardo, Luka, Titone (Cefalo e Procride), Betto, Fiorello, Zuniga, Dancairo, Yakuside, soloist in Without Warning (Old Vic Tunnels) and ensemble in Coram Boy (National Theatre). Comcert highlights include Messiah, Petite Messe Solennelle and Ein Deutsches Requiem.
Plans include Papageno for Merry Opera.
Matthew Duncan BARON - Matthew Duncan
Matthew trained at the Royal Northern College of Music and the Opera Studio at the Associated Studios, London. Recent appearances at Grange Park Opera include Madama Butterfly, Idomeneo, Tosca, Love for Three Oranges and Tristan und Isolde. Roles include Schaunard La Boheme (Opera-Up-Close), Butcher Merrie England (Opera South), Gugliemo Cosi fan Tutte (European Chamber Opera and Jackdaws Opera), Jailor Rigoletto (Bury Court Opera) Melchior Amahl and the Night Visitors (Dress Circle), Herr Frank Die Fledermaus (RNCM), Junius Rape of Lucretia (Elemental Opera), Calchas La Belle Helene (Merry Opera). As a concert singer, he has performed in the UK as well as in France, Italy and Kenya.
Glenn TweedieGASTON - Glenn Tweedie
Glenn is from Belfast and completed a BMus (Hon) at the R.N.C.M and PG Dip at the R.C.M. Roles include: Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), Torquemada (L'heure Espagnol), Lacouf and Le Journaliste (Les Mamelles de Tirésias), Dr Caius (Falstaff), Edouard (Un giorno di regno), Piquillo (La Perichole), Pifear (Si J'etais Roi), Camille (The Merry Widow), Monostatos (The Magic Flute), Hypochondriac (The Gambler). Concert and oratorio include Elijah (Mendelssohn), Acis and Galatea (Handel), Passions, Magnificat & Bminor mass (Bach), Creation, Nelson Mass (Haydn): Coronation Mass,Vespers, Requiem (Mozart), Petite Messe Solonnelle (Rossini): Canticle III (Britten) & Carmina Burana (Orff). He was Ajax and Achilles (La Belle Hélène/Troy Boy/Merry Opera) and sang in their staged Messiah. Future work includes two revival tours of the Messiah, Ferrando in cosi fan tutte and operetta, gala and Gilbert and Sullivan concerts in London and Belfast.
Oliver BrignallGASTON - Oliver Brignall
A singer and composer, Oliver reads music to Masters Level at Canterbury Christchurch University where he won the major prizes in both composition and singing. He is studying for a PhD in composition at Brunel University under the supervision of Professor Peter Wiegold and Dr John Croft. His music has been performed at the Sounds New and Deal festivals. He has sung with Opera Holland Park for four years, both as Mr Porcupine (The Fantastic Mr Fox) and covering Frederico in l'Amico Fritz in 2011. He has also performed new music at the Grimeborn and Tete à Tete opera festivals. He sang Orestes La Belle Hélène/Troy Boy/Merry Opera and in 2012 will perform in Opera Holland Park as Mr Porcupine & cover Monsieur Triquet (Eugine Onegin).
Kristin FinniganFLORA - Kristin Finnigan
Contralto Kristin graduated with honours from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in 2004 and then completed the advanced postgraduate course at Trinity College of Music, supported by the Henry Rennoldson-Crawford Scholarship. Whilst at Trinity she won the English Song and the Elisabeth Schumann Lieder Prize. Operatic roles include Amastre (Xerxes/Iford Arts), Widow Browe (Peter the Great/Opera South), Bacchis (La Belle Hélène/Troy Boy / Merry Opera), Fairy Queen (Iolanthe/Charles Court Opera), Marcellina (Le nozze di Figaro/Musique Cordiale Opera) in London & France and Messaggiera in Monteverdi's L'Orfeo. This summer Kristin returns to Iford Arts to play Mistress Quickly in Verdi's Falstaff.
Gemma MorsleyFLORA - Gemma Morsley
Gemma studied at Middlesex University, initially embarking on a career in musicals, revue and cabaret, and now studies opera with David Barrell. Operatic roles include Second Lady in The Magic Flute at Zeist Opera Festival, Netherlands, and more recently with Oyster Opera at St John's Smith Square. She has also sung Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte and in L'elisir d'amore. Choral repertoire includes The Creation, Vivaldi Gloria, Mozart Coronation Mass and Requiem. Gemma also sang in the UK premiere of Messe per Rossini (RAM) and 'Smith' at the British Museum, performing works by Allegri, Kodaly and Bainton.
Christine CunnoldChristine Cunnold (ensemble and cover Violetta)
Christine recently completed postgraduate vocal studies at Trinity College of Music and is currently a participant of the ENO opera works. Her opera appearances include: The Soprano Soloist in Merry Opera's staged Messiah, Jill (These thing Happen) at the Courtyard Theatre, Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro) with Harrow Opera, Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi) and Miss Wordsworth (Albert Herring) for Trinity College Opera. She has also appeared in scenes at Trinity, AIMS International Summer School and City Opera. A keen soloist, she has performed at the Proms at St Jude's, Mill Hill Music Society, Oxford Fringe Festival, St Mary le Bow and Southwark Cathedral among other venues. Other recent oratorio experience include Messiah (Handel), Christmas Oratorio (Bach) and St Nicholas Mass(Haydn).
Kit Hesketh-HarveyLIBRETTO/ DIRECTOR - Kit Hesketh-Harvey
Born in Nyasaland, Kit Hesketh-Harvey (Stage Director and Libretto) was Head Chorister at Canterbury, and choral scholar at Cambridge. He studied theatre writing under Sondheim. Staff producer for BBC-TV, he left to write screenplays (including Maurice for Merchant / Ivory and work on The Vicar Of Dibley) and at the Comedy Store began thirty years of Kit and the Widow, the cabaret for which he writes the songs. In addition to three West End runs, they have starred in Salad Days (Vaudeville) and Tomfoolery (with Dillie Keane, with whom they recently joined forces in Cowardy Custard). As a broadcaster Kit is best known as a panellist on R4's Just A Minute. For his column in Country Life, he won Writer of the Year.Plays include Five O'Clock Angel (Hampstead) and A La Villa Bab Azzoun (also Hampstead). He co-devised Putting It Together (Sondheim), and worked with fellow Vivian Ellis awardwinning composer James McConnel on Writing Orlando (Barbican) and Yusupov (Bridewell).

As librettist/translator Kit has worked on Fledermaus and Magic Flute (Scottish Opera), Daughter Of The Regiment (ETO), Il Turco and La Belle Helene (ENO), Merry Widow (Opera North, sydney opera House and, shortly, Melbourne), Bartered Bride (Royal Opera), Bluebeard and Veronique (Buxton), Le Roi Malgre Lui (Grange Park), Figaro and Bourgeois Gentilhomme (Armonico). Original libretti include Monteverdi's Flying Circus (Armonico), Varjak Paw (Linbury, composer Julian Phillips), and he co-produced The Caribbean Tempest (Holders Barbados, with Kylie Minogue). Married to actress, academic and Bond Girl Kate Rabett, they have two children, dividing their time between Norfolk and Cornwall. Kit directed Merry Opera's La Belle Hélène / Troy Boy in 2011.
Stephen Hose MUSIC DIRECTOR - Stephen Hose
Stephen trained at the Royal Academy of Music where he held a Vaughan Williams scholarship, and has worked extensively as a Musical Director and conductor in London and regional theatre. Projects abroad range from the English Theater of Frankfurt to The Lost Colony at the 2,000 seat outdoor theatre on Roanoke Island, USA. TV work has included being the pianist on Channel 4's Titanic, The Mission, accompanist for The Choir, and 5 years as Musical Director for TV productions of Christmas Glory. He was Chorus Master for Jessye Norman's Ellington's Sacred Songs at the Barbican Theatre and Epidavros, Greece. He is Music Director for OperaUK for whom work has included A Night at the Opera, The Barber of Seville, cosi fan tutte, The Merry Widow, Olé and El Amor Brujo. He was Music Director for Orpheus and The Barber (Unexpected Opera). In 2010 he became Music Director for Merry Opera's first tour of a staged Messiah and toured with them in 2011 with La Belle Hélène/Troy Boy and their second staged Messiah production, which he will be directing again in revival tours in 2012.
Neil McTaggartVIOLINIST - Neil McTaggart
As a founder member of the acclaimed Solaris Quartet, Neil performs widely throughout Europe, including several South Bank appearances. Ensembles Neil has played with include the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; RPO Concert Orchestra; Locrian Ensemble; Camerata Ireland; National Symphony Orchestra; New Mozart Orchestra (principal); The Opera Group; Southern Sinfonia; New Westbrook Orchestra (featured on BBC Radio's Performance on Three); City of Oxford Orchestra and several West End shows including Phantom of the Opera, Sound of Music and Wicked. In 2011, Neil toured with Merry Opera's La Belle Hélène / Troy Boy and performed a double concerto at St Martin-in-the-Fields alongside Britain's top violinist Rolf Wilson and the Locrian Ensemble.
Preece trained as an actor at the Bristol Old Vic and has enjoyed various roles on stage, in TV and in film. He has been lucky enough to branch out into other areas of the industry, including singing, dancing and screenwriting, and has toured extensively in the USA, Italy, France, Hong Kong and the UK. This is his fifth production with Merry Opera.
Coming soon
Bach Track9/02/2012 Bach Track by Paul Kilbey
...Violetta in La Traviata is one of opera's hardest soprano parts. Violetta changes character completely over the opera's three acts– all the way from voracious party girl to delicate, dying consumptive – and the singer must be in complete control of the role... + more

Bargain Theatre15/02/2011 Bargain Theatre by Gareth Richardson
Hesky-Harvey's English translation and direction, the venue's warm welcome and intimate nature, together with the modern adaptation of this production all combine to provide a very accessible and certainly enjoyably entertaining experience. + more

British Theatre Guide08/02/2011 British Theatre Guide by Callie Swarbrick
The night was fizzy, and that's not just because of the sign saying drink as much as you like on the theatre door. When a cast is having lots of fun onstage, and the men have tutus and fishnets on what can you do? It's a no brainer, join in the joke and be merry. + more

Camden New Journal02/02/2011 Camden New Journal by Sebastian Taylor
Burlesque opera... Sopranos and mezzos will be variously attired in such delights as curvaceous corsets and camisoles, sexy suspenders and stilettos and boas and, believe it not, balloons. Tenors, baritones and basses... wear boxers, bloomers, bowlers and boas... + more

London Evening Standard10/02/2011 Evening Standard by Kireon Quirke
La Traviata is a burlesque club above a bar in east London where Alfredo falls for Violetta, the stripper with a brain tumour. The club is meant to be seedy but it's more like a saucy fancy-dress night. There's a sense of fun... + more

What's On The Fringe13/02/2011 What's On The Fringe by Karandash
This is a must-see production which deserves a transfer to more comfortable, but no less intimate surroundings. + more

The Gisborne Herald 09/02/2011 The Gisborne Herald
Portraying the role of the tragic heroine Violetta was "a dream come true. It is a big role, emotionally and vocally," she said. "I look forward to exploring it and having the opportunity to perform it in this excitingly fresh and current adaptation". + more

NZ News UK16/02/2011 NZ News UK by Joseph Hoye
The scenes set in the La Traviata club have more energy than the apartment scenes, as one would expect from burlesque versus domesticity, but the simple set designs that work for the club look awkward elsewhere... + more

Paul in London12/02/2011 Paul in London by Paul
The staging is kept simple and so the piece relies on the passion and performances of this young and energetic cast right in front of you to hit the spot. And they do! + more

Remote Goat15/02/2011 Remote Goat by Aline Waites
The story of Violetta - the doomed fallen woman who makes a supreme sacrifice. This updated production is set in a burlesque pub in the East End of London, Violetta is a sexy dance hostess and her Alfredo is a young city gent on a slumming expedition to the East End. It is religious differences - not reasons of class - that keep them apart - differences epitomised by Al's father Jerman who manages to persuade Violetta to end the affair. + more

The Telegraph10/02/2011 Telegraph by Michael White Theatre
I enjoyed this Traviata hugely. It's a tidier piece of work that hangs together... Hesketh Harvey's idea of staging some of the more obviously spotlit set-piece arias as spotlit cabaret turns was
brilliant. And beyond the fact that it was good fun, it was also surprisingly affecting. + more