Last week I was fortunate enough to experience the fantastic performance of ‘Ruddigore’ by Opera Soc. Upon first hearing of the performance I’ve got to admit, I wasn’t instantly intrigued, after all it’s just Opera! Something that I haven’t got an interest in... or so I thought. How much I was mistaken! My ignorance of the society was well and truly defeated and I can now say that their showing of ‘Ruddigore’ has left me with a complete new vision of Opera and just how fantastic it can be.
Ruddigore was brilliantly brought to life across four nights from the 7th to the 10th May in the Riley Smith Hall. Based on the Gilbert and Sullivan’s script, Opera Soc, with contributions from the Orchestra and Backstage Society, recreated the story with vivid imagination, creating a spectacular show that I dare anyone in the audience to dislike. It tells the story of Rose Maybud, a young lady from the town of Ruddigore who all the bridesmaids in the village are desperate to be wed as they’ve been denied a wedding for over 6 months. It looks as though their wish will be fulfilled when Rose meets Robin Oakapple and the pair quickly falls in love. However, Robin is not quite the man he originally seems and it turns out that he is a member of the cursed house of Murgatroyd. Following a run-in with a witch who he tried to burn at the stake, Sir Rupert Murgatroyd (Robin’s ancestor) brought a curse upon his line: all of the Barons of Ruddigore must commit one crime per day or else they perish. This leaves Robin in a difficult situation as his true identity is revealed and all of the characters are left with the trying to find a balance between avoiding the curse and having true love.
Now I’ve already admitted to being uncultured when it comes to Opera so to discover it’s so much more than the stereotypical Italian high-pitched songs is quite a revelation. This was a show full of excitement, humour and included both musical numbers satisfying for the ear and the eye. The cast all performed brilliantly with stand -out performances from all the leading cast but commendations to Emily Birsey as the young, beautiful Rose and to Freddie Brook for his convincing Robin. Also praise to David Ward for his fantastic portrayal of Sir Despard and Rachael Ward for her genius portrayal of Mad Margaret. And that’s without mentioning the incredible acting on behalf of Matt Broadey and Josh Elmore who both created utterly hilarious characters that will surely stick in the audience’s mind for a long, long time.
The other leading cast members were superb too. As were the incredibly well-rehearsed chorus of bridesmaids and ghosts who all deserve praise for their hard work and dedication that clearly helped make the show the success it is. If the performances weren’t enough the set was also visually appealing and the choreography and costumes inventive and helped create the perfect atmosphere.
All of this is without mentioning the incredible musical performance by the orchestra that really set the mood and atmosphere of the whole show. I’ve got to say I thoroughly enjoyed the whole performance and have been well and truly converted to this musical genre. I for one cannot wait to see what Opera Soc have in store for the future. Brilliant cast, crew and show all round. I’d recommend anyone to see this!