‘La Boheme’ heads festival line-up

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It’s time for some of Northumberland’s stately homes to host a bevy of talented performers as the Northumberland Music Festival returns.

The event has gone from strength to strength since starting in 2011 and organisers are hopeful that this year’s diverse lineup will attract a bumper audience.

The jewel in this year’s festival crown is a performance of ‘La Boheme’, the event’s first full length opera.

The fully staged and costumed production is being brought to Doxford Hall on Friday, November 15, by Heritage Opera who have become renowned for challenging people’s preconceptions of opera and bringing the genre to new audiences. Highlights’ artistic director is Sarah Helsby Hughes, who is also playing Mimi, one of the main parts in ‘La Boheme’.

She told ‘WOW’ that the Puccini classic would be an ideal first opera for anyone as it has so many timeless themes that everyone can relate to.

“The music and the plot are both highly emotional,” she explained.

“At the forefront of the story are a couple trying to survive on the breadline.

“He is an aspiring writers and she makes flowers for ladies hats.

“They don’t have it easy and split up on numerous occasions.

“It’s one of those scenarios when it’s bad when they’re together but worse when they’re apart.

“Anyone who’s fallen in love with anyone without thinking of the consequences can relate.”

‘La Boheme’ famously inspired hit Broadway musical ‘Rent’ which helped it reach a wider audience and Sarah said if people were willing to leave any negative preconceptions at the door, they would realise opera isn’t just a past time for the upper class.

“A lot of people have no idea that operas are actually plays; they just think it’s all about people in fancy costumes singing.

“We want to dispel that notion. All of our operas are in English so people don’t need to worry about not understanding them.

“And we tell the story how it’s meant to be told; we don’t bamboozle our audiences with any far out productions.”

○Tickets for ‘La Boheme’ are £59 including welcome drink and 3 course dinner. To book ring 01668 283100.