Review: Swanhunter, Cast Doncaster

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This was Opera North’s first visit to South Yorkshire for a very long time and they couldn’t have brought a more appropriate piece to an area that gets few opportunities to experience opera of any kind.

Jonathan Dove’s interpretation of a Finnish folk tale is aimed at older children and makes an ideal introduction to opera because it offers so much more than just singing and orchestral music.

This story of a hunter who sets off for the frozen north in search of a wife but instead finds adventure and danger is enlivened by the use of imaginative and convincing puppets (think Warhorse) and a quirky six-piece band which includes an accordion and a drum-kit.

All the parts are performed by just six young singers (who double up as puppeteers) and Hannah Mulder’s production is not short of flair and creativity.

Both Dove’s music and Richard Howell’s lighting are richly evocative and at 70 minutes this chamber opera does not outstay its welcome.

South Yorkshire needs more of this.