A wonderfully humorous and touching opera at Brighton’s Royal Pavilion

From left: Guy Elliott (Ferrando), Sarah Baillie (Fiordiligi), Rhona Coogan (Dorabella), Andrew Sparling (Don Alfonso) and James Newby (Guglielmo)
From left: Guy Elliott (Ferrando), Sarah Baillie (Fiordiligi), Rhona Coogan (Dorabella), Andrew Sparling (Don Alfonso) and James Newby (Guglielmo)

Everyone’s Theatre Company take their production of Cosi Fan Tutte to The Music Room in Brighton’s Royal Pavilion on Saturday, August 22.

Company director Lorna Baillie said: “This particular production has four talented young guest artists singing the roles of the lovers, but Everyone’s Theatre Company is actually a community group based in Kingston-upon-Thames that welcomes anyone who would like to take part, whatever their experience or ability.

“One of the singers taking part (singing Fiordiligi) is, in fact, my daughter, Sarah who, having graduated from Durham University, has since trained at the Royal Academy of Music and English National Opera’s Opera Works.

“I shall be singing the role of Despina, and the first time we performed together was when I was a heavily pregnant Susanna some time ago.

“That added a certain twist to the production!

“This is actually the first time I have sung opera since ‘retiring’ over 20 years ago. My first Despina was in a production of (musical director) Simon’s in 1983, which called for me to be made up to look 60.

“The irony is not lost on me!

“Rhona Coogan (Dorabella), Guy Elliott (Ferrando) and James Newby (Guglielmo) play the three remaining lovers, and working with such talented and delightful young artists has been a joy.

“Andrew Sparling’s witty performance as Don Alfonso completes the cast, and our director Hannah Noone has created a wonderfully-humorous and touching show, in costume (set in the 1940s) and with a chamber orchestra of Brighton musicians.”

For Lorna and the team, part of the challenge will be the quick get-in. The venue closes to the public at 5pm. Two and a half hours later, the company will take to the stage. But then again, they are well used to challenges.

Their first production was Sweeney Todd five years ago.

“It all started off because I am a retired opera singer, and my daughter is a fledgling opera singer and is on the brink of becoming a professional. I quite liked the idea of singing with her before she went off to do it on her own. All our friends got involved and some of my pupils, and it became a community group. The singers are all brilliant.”

As for Cosi Fan Tutte, the starting point was seeing her daughter and three others perform so well in Eugene Onegin: “The quartet worked so well and blended so well I was chatting to them, and it just grew from that.”

In the event, Lorna got three of the four back for the show.

“Working with my daughter is a delight. She has a far better voice than I ever had. The first time I appeared with her I was pregnant with her! And then when we did Sweeney Todd, I was Mrs Lovett and she was Joanna. She is very, very easy to work with.”

Tickets from www.ticketsource.co.uk/everyonestheatrecompany or on the door.

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