The Puccini Party (March 2007)

The Puccini Party at Café Nova in Sheffield city centre was a great success. The party was attended by 84 members, patrons and friends of Sheffield City Opera who enjoyed a three course meal of pasta and salads, whilst listening to a programme of mainly Italian opera by Puccini sung by the whole company and soloists. Some items of lighter music were also included. (Full programme below.)

The elegant modern décor of the restaurant, devoid of any soft furnishings, provided excellent acoustics which allowed the singers’ voices and piano accompaniment by Jonathan Gooing and Andrew Griffiths to ring out.

SCO’s chorus was on good form as it opened the concert with two Italian operatic choruses, with Mel Osborne providing the stirring tenor solo lines in the Wedding Chorus. The company then returned to their seats to enjoy the soloists’ items, until the end of the concert when they took the floor again to sing three finale items.

The excellent soloists were Joanna Shacklock, Sharon Nicholson-Skeggs, Ernesto Correa and Andrew Lockwood. Jonathan Gooing was Musical Director.

Sharon was sporting a deep tan, having only returned from a holiday in India a matter of hours before the concert. She commenced the evening’s solo arias with a superb rendition of ‘Un Bel Di’ from Madama Butterfly, closely followed by Andrew Lockwood’s sensitively sung aria from ‘Martha’, and Joanna’s beautiful ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’. Ernesto Correa joined the party later, having had a busy working day, and delighted guests with ‘E Lucevan E Stella’ from Tosca. All were thrillingly accompanied by Jonathan Gooing.

Aria followed aria, each warmly applauded by the appreciative audience, and by the end of the evening SCO had hopefully won many new patrons to support future concerts and productions.

The evening was devised and produced by Christine Ayres. Christine hopes to hold a similar evening later this year.