Oxfordshire-based touring company Opera Anywhere is expanding its reach into Suffolk next year, as it performs two of Gilbert and Sullivan’s best-loved operettas at Southwold Arts Centre in January 2023.
“We’re very excited about our 2023 plans, visiting numerous new towns and cities throughout the UK as well as returning to many of our established venues,” the company said in a statement. “Our expansion into Suffolk starts at Christmas.”
A performance of HMS Pinafore is set to take place at the theatre on 2 January, with the show starting at 7.30pm. The following day sees a staging of The Pirates of Penzance at 3pm.
Timeless comic operetta HMS Pinafore (1878) is a tale of mismatched love across different social classes. Josephine is the ship’s captain’s daughter and has fallen for lowly sailor Ralph. But her father has other ideas – he has promised her to Sir Joseph Porter, the First Lord of the Admiralty.
“Will love prevail?” Opera Anywhere asked. “Climb aboard to find out and enjoy a feast of fun along the way. Hip hip hooray!”
An unfortunate case of mishearing initiates the plot for The Pirates of Penzance (1879), resulting in a dramatic change of career direction for Frederic, who sets a course to become a pirate rather than a pilot. The twists and turns of this classic operetta unfold with ingenious characters, sublime music and some of the best-known songs in opera.
Both productions are directed by Tristan Stocks, with musical direction by Nia Williams. The artistic director is Vanessa Woodward, while the producer is Mike Woodward.
John Alcock is technical and lighting director. Woodwind and orchestral arrangements are by Nick Planas.
Full price tickets for both productions cost £20 and are on sale now. Early bird half price tickets are available until 30 November.
The company is still finalising the rest of its plans for 2023, but these are set to include performing HMS Pinafore on the river again. In 2017, performers took to punts for a special water-based staging in Oxford, something they are hoping to repeat next year.
Opera Anywhere was founded in 2000 by Mike and Vanessa Woodward. It is a touring company that specialises in producing accessible, innovative and entertaining opera and operetta for all ages. Performances take place in a variety of venues, including theatres, concert halls, churches, festivals, museums, galleries and even outside.
The company is partly funded by grants from Arts Council England. Commenting on news of cuts to Arts Council budgets, Opera Anywhere said that the new strategy shows a move away from London-based organisations towards more regional opera.
Opera Anywhere isn’t yet in a position to benefit from this funding, but in the future hopes that it “may be able to win some of the funding”. Until then, it continues to rely on its audiences and supporters.
“We would love you to continue to purchase tickets for our events, sign up for our friend’s scheme or make a donation. We specifically need funds to help us re-imagine our long-running Mikado, we’d love to build new productions of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.”
Anyone interested in getting involved can find out more on the company’s website.
Opera Anywhere’s HMS Pinafore will be sailing into Suffolk in January 2023, with a one-off performance at Southwold Arts Centre.