Welcome to Opera 74


Carmen is arrested - an excerpt from our recent production of Carmen

It is with great sadness that after 43 years of bringing opera to the Bolton area, Opera74 has to announce that they are unable to continue as a society. The main reasons for this decision are increasing costs and declining membership. Opera74 were delighted that what turned out to be their last production was also one of their most successful. Thank you to everyone who has supported Opera74 since it was formed in 1974.

Our final event will be 'Christmas 2 'til 4 with Opera74' on Monday 27th November at The Christ Church Centre, Markland Hill, Heaton, Bolton. It will be a festive treat of music and song from Ann Haslam, Sue Bradley and Barbara Mayers. The icing on the cake to be added by the brilliant young violinist Matthew Chadbond. Robert Aston will accompany on piano.

All this will be served up with a dash of mulled wine, mince pies and other Christmas goodies. Any profit from this event will be sent to 'Bloodwise' in memory of Robert Peace.

Tickets for this Christmas event will sell out quickly so places need to be booked in advance by contacting Eric on 01204 439263. Tickets £6 (£5 for Friends of Opera74)

This website will be closed down in the New Year


HISTORY OF OPERA 74

THE EARLY YEARS

It was over 40 years' ago in 1974 when Margaret Lindsay and Michael Greenhalgh made the decision to start an opera group which they decided to call Opera 74. What energy and determination they had in those far off days, but what an abundance of local talented singers there were in Bolton to give them the confidence to embark on such a madcap idea.

Their initial plan was to present early Operas, which they rightly believed required smaller orchestral forces, and smaller choruses. So their first Opera was Gluck's masterpiece "Orfeo". Margaret sang the part of Orfeo, one of her first memorable performances with Opera 74. Not only did she sing, but she also made all the wonderful costumes. This she continued to do until she decided to retire from the company.

Thus with 44 Subscribers and many singers eager to become members of Opera 74, Margaret and Michael began to explore the shelves at Manchester Music Library in search of interesting early operas. With scenery designed and built by Michael Sefton, who also directed for the first six years, they introduced little known operas by baroque composers such as Monteverdi, Pergolesi, Cimarosa, Purcell and Cavalli. Of course they did not neglect Rossini or Mozart. Indeed the performance of The Marriage of Figaro was the first of many of his operas that were also given in the Great Hall at Houghton Towers. Now under the direction of Jean Hansen they were always wonderful occasions.

The culmination of these early years was the superb production of Carmen in 1984 with Margaret in the title role. Margaret gave an electrifying performance, and for those who were there it was a never to be forgotten experience.

The Little Theatre stage was now no longer big enough for the much larger cast and orchestra demanded by the Romantic Operas that many wanted to do. It was therefore decided in 1985 to move to the beautifully restored Albert Halls. With Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann the Albert Halls became "home" to Opera 74

THE PRESENT

The Albert Halls continued to be "home" to Opera 74 with annual opera productions until 2013. In 2014 Opera 74 went back to their roots at the Bolton Little Theatre with a production of Carmen for their 40th anniversary production.

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