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The Clonter Opera in Congleton is ready for a musical mission

PUBLISHED: 10:33 15 October 2013 | UPDATED: 10:33 15 October 2013

Die Fledermaus (The Bat) at Clonter Opera Theatre July 2013 - Photo by Pauline Neild

Die Fledermaus (The Bat) at Clonter Opera Theatre July 2013 - Photo by Pauline Neild

Pauline Neild for Clonter Opera July 2013

The renowned farm venue near Congleton, stages so much more than just opera.

Clonter is entering the last quarter of its ever expanding annual programme and the ‘opera farm’ which made its name with a totally classical offering is now widening its appeal.

Next year sees the introduction of musical comedy, adding to the already wide range on the Clonter menu of folk, jazz, gospel and this year a brass band, with of course opera.

Getting people to know that Clonter stages more than just opera is a challenge, says Isabella Lockett, the Joint Chief Executive. ‘We have had endless debates about losing the word opera, but whenever we think we should, someone like Ralph McTell (of Streets of London fame), who graced the Clonter stage last year, says how exciting it is to be performing in an opera house, and the Royal Opera House in Manchester puts on the Rocky Horror Show, so the task seems to be to just get the message across that Clonter Opera doesn’t just do opera.’

However, next up is the ever-popular Clonter Opera Gala, where people like to dress up, and make a real night of it, with canapés and fizz, with the traditional 70 minute supper interval in which to enjoy either a home-made picnic or full meal in the quirky but elegant Carmen Dining Room. Swiftly on its tail sees the return of the London Adventist Chorale, which is another annual favourite which attracts coachloads of gospel enthusiasts.

For those into the fuller sound, this is followed by the Stalybridge Old band. If you are struggling to get in the Christmas mood, these two events will sort you out. And if you need a pick-me-up after Christmas, the Opera Prize invites the audience to vote for their favourite singer.

Along with every other theatre in the land, Clonter needs greater audience numbers to survive. ‘People who come to Clonter through the education programme (which involves over 2000 children every year) always say “I had no idea it would be like this”. So, clearly we have a long way to go to get the message out there,’ Isabella.

Amanda Harman, Joint Director, said: ‘The feedback we are getting from all those who benefit from the opportunities we offer reinforces our belief that Clonter continues to have a unique, valuable role to play; increasing the accessibility of the arts through our education programme, and offering opportunities to emerging singers at key moments in their careers, as well as being committed to making the arts accessible to an ever widening public.’ Amanda Harman, Joint Chief Executive.

For more details about Clonter’s varied programme visit: www.clonteropera.com

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