Author: Mrs Betty Haslam
Kevin John directed these two short operas.
The chorus singing at the setting of the sun starts the opera. Haroun a rich playboy (well played by Jack Tebbutt whose delightful tenor voice and acting was well suited to the role) reclines and smokes in his palace claiming he loves no woman. Haroun`s lover for a month, Djamileh (Alexia Mankovskaya), is nearly over and he demands she is replaced with a new girl. Heartbroken she sings her last lament, her soprano voice expressing her sorrow at being sent away, Alexia’s acting and singing complemented her performance. Spendiano (Ewan Stockwell) Haroun`s steward confides he is in love with Djamileh, his rich baritone voice and splendid acting giving full credit to the role. He agrees to help Djamileh win over Haroun by helping her to disguise as the next slave girl. Introduced by a Slave Merchant (Carlos Garcia) as she dances in the moonlight Haroun recognizes her and realises she loves him. Unable to resist his own feelings towards her he eventually gives in.
Jack Tebbutt played the Caliph`s favourite Abu Hassan, and was very suitable in the role. He portrayed a man with a flamboyant attitude deeply in debt through gambling. He hatches a plan to fake both his and his wife`s deaths. Laura Cheetham played the role of Fatima the mischievous wife, again well suited to the part, tells Zobeida's nurse, Zemrud, hilariously performed by Angela Joseph, that Abu Hassan has died in order to receive funeral money and a piece of material as a shroud. Money lender Omar (Derek S Henderson) the chief creditor along with others waving promissory notes burst in demanding to be paid. Omar is in love with Fatima and Hassan tricks him into paying all the debts making him believe that Fatima loves him. Omar reappears demanding a kiss from Fatima but Hassan returns and Omar hides in an adjoining room. Mesrur the Chamberlain (Carlos Garcia) arrives to see if both husband and wife are dead and reports to Caliph Harun al Rashid, a strong performance by Peter Melville and his wife Zobeida a majestic performance by Elizabeth Chester. After a great deal of confusion, wagers, and pardons, the story based on a tale of One Thousand and One Nights see Fatima and Hassan pardoned and Omar having paid Hassan`s debts in the hope of winning Fatima`s heart being sent away in disgrace. A very lively performance well supported by a large Chorus making this light hearted Opera a very fun and entertaining evening.
Musical Director Lewis Gaston a conductor both in UK and abroad led the principals and chorus, ably accompanied by Judith Flint on the piano
Stage manager Dawn and her backstage crew, Kevin John, designed the simple sets constructed by Kevin John and Alan Knight, and Lighting designed and operated by John Whitehead all contributed to the performance.