Great Hall operas started in 1978 with The Magic Flute. This comprised a rehearsal and a concert; the Queen of the Night arias still ring in one’s ears, perhaps the finest of our forty-year history. From 1980 onwards, the event became a play-through with an experienced cast, thanks to the North London Opera Group and Elaine Padmore’s contacts.
For the next thirteen years Mozart masterpieces took pride of place, but the performances also included the Barber of Seville, Der Freischutz, Fidelio, Hansel and Gretel, Cav and Pag, and Gluck’s Orpheo. Thanks also to Elaine who frequently provided an enlightened version of the story.
For the last decade the cudgel of organisation has fallen to Gerard Delrez: the programmes still had a Mozart bias, but included Verdi’s La Traviata, Rigoletto, Aida and Don Carlos.
GILBERT & SULLIVAN SOCIETY
JSPL conducted the Barts G&S Society from 1973 to 1984. Pat Thrower had founded the Society and produced Iolonthe as the first production in the previous year, with Richard Carver as Musical Director and Sarah Hamilton as accompanist; Robert Anderson had come in to conduct the performances. The highly talented and enthusiastic group of medical students and nurses were a joy to work with. In addition to the staged performances in the Golden Lane Theatre, concert performances were given of Showboat, Orpheus, Die Fledermaus, La Vie Parisienne and Dick Whittington. Four semi-stage performances of Trial by Jury over this period included one in the Guildhall.
There was surprisingly little overlap between BAFCO and the G&S Society on the choral side. Margaret did lead some of the performances, as did Richard Gullen and Michelle Cartright, the wind usually being drawn from the London Music Schools.