Sheffield opera singers’ grand vision

Director Louise Pymer with singers from Opera on Location outside Abbeydale Picture House
Director Louise Pymer with singers from Opera on Location outside Abbeydale Picture House
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Young musicians are staging an unusual production in Sheffield next week – but they’re in need of a finishing touch.

Opera on Location, in the words of co-founder Kathryn Gasic, aged 26, ‘does what it says on the tin.’

“We present amazing operas in unusual locations around Sheffield. They’re really accessible to everyone, including people who wouldn’t usually enjoy opera.”

The group is made up of aspiring professionals and showcases local artistic talent. Kathryn says their musicians are the ‘top singers of tomorrow.’

“They’re devoted to their craft, and to presenting the best possible performance.”

They’ve previously staged sold-out productions in the Winter Garden - which was transformed into an enchanted forest for A Midsummer Night’s Dream - the Graves Gallery, and City Hall Ballroom.

This year they venture beyond the city centre to the historic setting of Abbeydale Picture House, itself a success story having recently reopened as a cultural venue.

There they will present Tosca, by the Italian composer Puccini. It tells the dramatic story of Napoleon’s 1800 invasion of Italy. The company has transformed it to 1920s Prohibition-era America, suiting the art-deco Picture House.

But aiming high doesn’t come cheap. Realising that extra funds were needed for one particular aspect of the production, entrepreneur and co-founder Gareth Lloyd, 28, has launched a crowdfunding scheme which invites people to lend their support.

As he explains: “With such excellent singers and actors, we need to provide a grand piano that will fill the space and support them.”

The best instrument can be hired at a cost of £700, beyond the means of the company. The singers have been polishing their high notes and learning 200 pages of music by heart. And as soprano Andrea Tweedale, 28, says: “It would give us such a boost to have a proper piano. It would enable the music to sound its very best, and give our audience the most enjoyable experience.”

n Visit tinyurl.com/sheffieldoperapiano to donate before Monday. The production runs from next Thursday, August 25 to 27. Log on to www.operaonlocation.co.uk to book.

n Arts preview, p32