Shrewsbury Symphony Orchestra & Opera Stars Present 'Carmen'
17 May 2023
Tenor Lewis Quinn will be reprising the role of Don Jose in Carmen accompanied by Shrewsbury Symphony Orchestra on June 22 in Whitchurch Civic Centre (pictured here in 2020 by Robin Hughes Photography). And Mark Jenkins will sing Don Jose with the SSO at Christ Church, Bayston Hill on June 21. 

Shrewsbury Symphony Orchestra will join forces with North Wales Opera Studio to present Bizet’s well loved, highly emotive opera ‘Carmen’ next month (June 21 & 22).

The backing of a full symphony orchestra conducted by John Moore, promises to make for a rousing production of this classic opera - with two Shropshire dates planned: Christchurch, Bayston Hill on June 21 and Whitchurch Civic Centre on June 22. 

The passionate love story set to music, directed by Anne Williams-King, will star mezzo-soprano Maira Georgarou who is currently appearing as Carmen with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Athens (May 2023). She also recently played Suzuki in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly in the Holroyd Theatre, near Oswestry, with the North Wales Opera Company & Studio. 

Tenor Mark Jenkins

Spinto tenor Mark Jenkins (pictured above), from Bridgend, was a rugby player before he embarked on a quest to become a classical tenor, a decade ago. He previously sang in NWOC productions of La Traviata and Madame Butterfly.  He will sing Don Jose on June 21 at Christchurch, Bayston Hill, Shrewsbury. And Lewis Quinn will sing Don Jose on June 22 in Whitchurch Civic Centre. 

Lewis, a tenor from Liverpool, also sang Don Jose in NWOC’s Carmen in 2020, as well as Cavaradossi in Tosca and Turridu in Cavaleria Rusticana.

Also on stage will be baritone Kiefer Jones (Escamillo…Toreador), who graduated from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama with distinction in postgraduate vocal studies. He studied under international operatic baritone Donald Maxwell and has performed title roles with Opra Cymru, Mid-Wales Opera and more. Soprano Natasha Hendrickse-Welsh (Micaela) studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and has performed at prestigious venues including the Royal Festival Hall and the Royal Albert Hall.

NWOC in rehearsal for 2023 Carmen

The North Wales Opera Company in rehearsal for the 2023 production of 'Carmen' with Shrewsbury Symphony Orchestra

Carmen, a searing depiction of a woman who craves love, but creates obsession and jealousy, is one of the most popular operas ever written. Bizet‘s Spanish-inflected score is bursting with passionate melodies and famous numbers such as Carmen’s seductive ‘Habanera’ and Escamillo’s ‘Toreador song’. 

North Wales Opera Company & Studio, founded by international soprano Anne Williams - King in 2015, in Wrexham, provides a springboard for talented opera stars, providing them with employment and performance opportunities to help them progress their careers. Agents have an open invitation to attend! 

Anne said: “Our top professional team have years of experience in the world of opera and train people from when they’re just starting out until when they’re ready to go into the big wide world of opera.”

Notable recent stars who have benefited from NWOC include Shropshire soprano Holly Teague who recently sang Strauss’ ‘Four Last Songs’ as a professional soloist with the Shrewsbury Symphony Orchestra - and has recently been part of an ‘Opera Highlights’ tour with Scottish Opera. She’s also just released an album of Rameau for voice and organ with Edward Higginbottom, recorded in Keble Chapel, Oxford with CRD Records and will present a second ‘Shrewsbury Proms in the Park’ concert this June. 

Holly Teague performing with SSO in March 2023

Soprano Holly Teague performing with Shrewsbury Symphony Orchestra in March 2023.

Credit: Andy Bell Photography

Also among the NWOC alumni is Welsh baritone Robin Gruffudd Hughes, a prizewinner in the prestigious Towyn Roberts competition last summer at the National Eisteddfod; and Rachel Marsh from Wrexham, who went on to study with world renowned Welsh tenor Dennis O'Neil in Cardiff at the Wales International Academy of Voice.

“We are so thrilled and excited to have the Shrewsbury Symphony Orchestra accompanying our very talented young singers for this production of Carmen," Anne adds. "It will be a tremendous experience for them as there are not many opportunities to sing with a full symphony orchestra when trying to get established in the opera singing business!”

Alex Postlethwaite, leader of Shrewsbury Symphony Orchestra, said: “I've spent much of my professional life in opera pits around the country, to me it is a perfect artform. Joining with NWOS will bring fun, drama, thrills and huge challenges for the orchestra and it's wonderful to be able to link up with this local opera studio and working with fantastic singers many of whom are at the beginnings of their professional careers. 

“To be able to give them an experience to work with a large orchestra, as well as for the members of the orchestra to work with so many singers and having the buzz of performing such a well -known and hugely emotional and dramatic score will be so exciting for everyone.”