A memorable evening with Knighton Opera
Leicester Mercury Letters page, Tuesday October 2nd, 2018.
What a jewel we have among us.  With Il Trovatore, Knighton Opera have just served up another memorable evening.
Andrew Robinson's powerful Captain certainly caught our attention from the off, and Chris Marlow became increasingly convincing as the "Baddie" Count.  But it was the lovers who were the heart of the drama, and Richard Roddis in the title role and the amazing Michelle Carlin enchanted with their singing.
Yes, it's and absurd story, but turned to gold by Verdi, particularly in his ensembles, and it is here above all that conductor Paul Jenkins created an occasion that was both musically and dramatically moving.  What's next? Can't wait.
Roger Cairns, Swannington.
Verdi Vindicated
Submitted to the Leicester Mercury Letters page
Anyone who thought that Il Trovatore would be just too much for Knighton Opera would have been dramatically proved wrong in this first rate performance produced by Stephen Bruce (of legendary Leicester Gilbert and Sullivan fame) which would have graced many a more suitable stage and much larger audiences. Under the able baton of Paul Jenkins the orchestra captured the huge variations of pace , texture and colour of this demanding score with only the occasional awkward corner.  The chorus added much to the whole with some fine ensemble singing sometimes challenged by the off stage requirements of the score.
The soloists responded in kind despite Verdi exposing just one or two difficulties of technique to a singer's ear, all were capable of and certainly produced a well rounded performance befitting very talented and able local singers very much at home in what is after all the grandest of grand opera.  Ther reviewer hesitates to name any particular singer as 'Star of the Show,' because this may detract form the considerable quality of the soloist's 'company' .... but if he really had to, he would have to plump for Richard Roddis who as Manrico (and despite being a tenor!) was simply magnificent in every way.
Rev. Dr Stephen Foster
La Boheme, a review by Richard Gill.  Sept 29, 30 & Oct 2nd 2016
A good test of any musical performance is whether we feel we have been given the work, whether we come away with a renewed sense of its delight and value.  If we apply this test to the Knighton Opera Group's performance of Puccini's La Boheme, the muicians and singers easily pass.  The orchestra, under the direction of Paul Jenkins, played with zestful drama, leading the audience through the opera's varied emotional landscape.  Chris Marlow's Marcello sang with a fittingly masculine force, and Alexander Anderson-Hall's Rodolfo was questioning and sensitive.  Mimi, the central part, was given both force and an appealing vulnerability by Michelle Carlin, and Nicky Bingham gave Musetta an attrractive yet dangerous edge.  It should be stressed that the success of the performances owed much to the soloists acting ability.  The chorus was convincingly festive in the scene that is set on Christmas Eve.  High praise came from a member of the audience, who said that the performance was as enjoyable as the last time he had seen it-and that was at the Metropolitan Opera in New York!
Eugene Onegin
Carmen, Bizet
Embrace Arts at the Richard Attenborough Centre
October 2-4th, 2014
A production in the round at Embrace Arts.
Lead singers: Nicky Bingham (Carmen), Michelle Martin (Michaela), Tessa Greenhalgh (Frasquita), Polly Tucket (Mercedes), Alexander Anderson-Hall (Don Jose), Chris Marlow (Escamillo), Andrew Robinson (Dancairo), Clive Carlin (Remendado), Stephen Foster (Zuniga), Paul Blakemore (Morales) and Ana Carillo-Lopez (Lillas Pastia)
Producer: James D. Ward
Musical Director: Paul Jenkins
Repetiteur: Lydia Hind

Leicester Mercury, Letters page, 14-10-2014

Hard work pays off to produce a wonderful Carmen

A Feast of colour, melody and movement might be the best way to characterise an ambitious production of Bizet’s Carmen performed by Knighton Opera conducted by Paul Jenkins and directed by James Ward at the Richard Attenborough Centre on October 3rd, 2014.

I attended the second performance of this triple-run.  The limited space of the RAC was used imaginatively by performing in the round.

Don Jose, sung by tenor Alexander Anderson-Hall, passionately handled Bizet’s demands.  Carmen (mezzo-soprano Nicky Bingham) had an impressive stage presence: she not only had to sing beautifully, but act and dance the “seguidilla” (with castanets!), which she executed with seductive delight.  Michaela (soprano Michelle Carlin) sang with ravishing clarity and style.

Escamillo (Chris Marlow) dominated his scenes with fiery sexuality accomplished well by his ringing baritone.  Stephen Foster’s sonorous bass was excellently cast as the commanding officer.  There were many other smaller parts, all performed with vivacity and skill, and the chorus members sang zestily.

The production managed to make the very best use of the open space and the gallery; and using the barest minimum of props and different costumes, we in the audience were easily able to follow the plot.  A huge amount of work must have gone into achieving this most popular of operas - and it was well worth it.

David H.Clark, Leicester


Marriage of Figaro, Mozart

Fraser Noble Hall, University of Leicester

7-9 October 2010

A modern dress production in the style of Fawlty Towers.

Lead singers: Robert Clarke (The Count), Nicola Bingham (The Countess), Michelle Martin (Susanna), Andrew Robinson (Figaro), Jenny Sherrard (Cherubino), Katy Dent (Marcelina), Harvey Nightingale (Dr Bartelo), Vincenzo Sozzo (Don Basilio), Hannagh Bingham (Barbarina)

Producer: Jenny Sherrard

Musical Director: Paul Jenkins

Repetiteur: Lydia Hind


Don Giovanni, Mozart

Fraser Noble Hall, University of Leicester

23-25 October 2008

Lead singers: Alan Speight (Don Giovanni), Robert Clarke (Commendatore), Michelle Martin (Donna Anna), Vincenzo Sozzo (Don Orravio), Sandra Roberts (Donna Elvira), Peter Robinson (Leporello), Andrew Robinson (Masetto), Nicky Bingham (Zerlina).

Musical Director: Paul Jenkins

Production: Peter Robinson and Paul Jenkins

Repetiteur: Lydia Hind


A solid performance and wonderful music

Review by Peter Collett, 25th October 2008

"Set in 17th-century Seville, Mozart's opera Don Giovanni charts the murderous and heart-stealing antics of a Spanish nobleman.

After a slightly nervous Overture, the Knighton Chamber Orchestra settled into a competent accompaniment role to add the atmosphere and support of Mozart's wonderful music.

Alan Speight played a convincing lead as Don Giovanni. Indeed all of the 10-strong cast gave confident performances, producing a thoroughly coherent production. Michelle Martin, Sandra Roberts and Nicky Bingham sang wonderfully as the Don's love interests, while Vincenzo Sozzo couldn�t fail to captivate with his honeyed tenor tones.

Added narration had been carefully thought out and provided welcome guide posts to the plot.

The production contained some delightful humour, had been carefully choreographed and made good use of the space in the beautifully redecorated Fraser Noble Hall."


The Cloak (Il Tabarro), Puccini

The Merry Widow (Selections), Lehar

Richard Attenborough Centre, University of Leicester

18-20 October 2007

Full costume performance

Lead singers: Sandra Roberts, Ethne Goode, Tessa Greenhalgh, Alan Speight, Vincenzo Sozzo and Andrew Robinson.

Musical director: Paul Jenkins

Production: Paul Jenkins


Jolly antidote to first-half dramas

Review by Peter Collett, 20th October 2007

"In an ambitious programme, the Knighton Opera conducted by Paul Jenkins - presented two contrasting operatic views of Paris.

Puccini's Il Tabarro (The Cloak) is full of emotion, drama and tragedy all successfully conveyed both by singers and orchestra. A simple, but effective set portrayed the scene of a barge on which the opera is played. Sung in English, the opera was far more accessible than in the original Italian.

Lehar�s The Merry Widow is set among the higher echelons of Paris society and selections from it provided a jolly antidote to the drama of the first half. Confidence seemed higher and spoken parts in particular were excellent, plenty of enthusiasm and just the right inflections of humour and sarcasm, often coupled with perfectly balanced orchestral accompaniment.

A good deal of work had clearly gone into both the dramatic and musical sides of this production. Producer Roger Scoppie is to be congratulated on fine use of limited resources, especially in the use of a building which was probably never designed for this sort of production.

Musical accompaniment was confidently supplied throughout by the Knighton Chamber Orchestra."


Cosi fan Tutte, Mozart

Richard Attenborough Centre, University of Leicester

2-4 November 2006

An acted costume performance, in the round with a new translation by producer Roger Scoppie and accompanied by the Knighton Chamber Orchestra conducted by Paul Jenkins.

Lead singers: Sandra Roberts (Fiordeligi), Ethne Goode (Dorabella), Alan Speight (Guglielmo), Vincenzo Sozzo (Ferrando), Tessa Greenhalgh (Despina) and Maurice Fisher (Don Alfonso)