NI Opera’s The Bear comes to Coleraine

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NI Opera will return to the Riverside Theatre in Coleraine this Saturday with its new production of William Walton’s opera The Bear.

This will be the first time that the company has performed in Coleraine since its critically-acclaimed production of The Turn of the Screw in March last year.

Also appearing on the programme will be singers from local choirs including the Roe Valley Singers and the Portrush Music Society.

Based on Anton Chekhov’s hugely successful short story, and described by Walton himself as an ‘extravaganza in one act’, the opera is a witty and heartwarming story of love in the most unlikely of circumstances.

The Bear tells the story of Madame Popova, a beautiful widow in mourning for her late husband.

She is horrified when her servant reveals her husband’s infidelities, but even more shocked when the boorish Grigory Smirnov bursts into her house, demanding immediate payment of her husband’s debts. An argument ensues over whether men or women are more faithful in love, and as tempers flare, pistols are drawn - but will there really be a duel or something else altogether?

The Bear is directed by Oliver Mears, conducted by Nicholas Chalmers and designed by Simon Holdsworth – the award-winning team behind Tosca, Noye’s Fludde and The Flying Dutchman. The production stars Anna Burford, Andrew Rupp and John Molloy.

Choir members of the Roe Valley Singers and the Portrush Music Society will also feature on the programme, singing a selection of jazz legend George Shearing’s beautiful and inspiring Songs and Sonnets from Shakespeare.

Director Oliver Mears said: “We’re really excited to be bringing The Bear to audiences all over Northern Ireland. The opera is less than an hour long, but it’s packed with fantastic music and a funny, moving and fast-paced story. I’m also thrilled that we’re able to showcase some of Northern Ireland’s best choirs on the tour.

“Shearing’s songs combine jazz and classical styles, and I think people will really warm to them. The show gives people a brilliant opera, world-class singers, terrific Northern Irish choirs and music that really lifts the spirits.”