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La boheme

It’s Christmas Eve in Paris. A young poet, an artist and a philosopher are celebrating in their flat. Then comes a knock at the door, a lost key and an accidental touch of cold hands in the dark, and so begins one of the greatest romances of all opera.

From the irrepressible joy of their burgeoning love affair through to the unbearable heartbreak at their separation by death, only the stoniest of hearts could fail to be moved by this timeless story – whether you’re watching for the first or the 31st time.

Sung in English this production is set in war torn 1940’s Paris, just after the end of the war and the German occupation. With lovely vintage costumes designed by Gabriella Ingram it will be performed by some of the finest singers and orchestral players in the country. Thanks to funding from ACE, ACW and this year Creative Scotland, we are also teaming up with fine local choirs to supplement our core of professional choristers. Our thanks go to them for undertaking the project so enthusiastically and professionally.

Touring to 25 theatres through the UK, audiences can discover more about the importance of design in staging an opera with our free pre-performance talks when Brendan Wheatley, Swansea City Opera’s Artistic Director, talks about the Puccini’s life and music and the challenges of creating a new production for the stage.

Photography by Guy Harrop –

Cast & Biographies

Click on our cast members to find out more

  • Mimi - Rebecca Goulden

    Rebecca Goulden


    Rebecca Goulden

    Born in Bolton, Rebecca is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music Opera School and studies with Mary Plazas.
    Her oratorio experience includes: La Petite Messe Solennelle, Bach Mass in B Minor, Mozart Requiem, Mass in C Minor, Haydn Nelson Mass, Brahms Requiem, Carmina Burana, Verdi Requiem, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Vivaldi Gloria and Elijah.
    Her opera roles include: Danish Lady/Youth Death in Venice for the Bregenzer Festspiele and Aldeburgh Festival, Pamina The Magic Flute for the Beauforthuis Festival, Netherlands, Miss Jessel The Turn of the Screw for Opera Koln, Le Messie for the Opera Nationale de Bordeaux, Sirene (cover) Rinaldo at Gylndebourne, Mimi La Boheme for the Wexford Festival, Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro for Swansea City Opera, Despina in Cosi Fan Tutte for Focus Opera and Micaëla in Carmen for the Tri Culuri Festival, Clorinda in La Cenerentola for The Wexford Festival Opera, Marguerite in Faust for Swansea City Opera, Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro for Heritage Opera, and Mahler’s 2nd Symphony. Outside of singing Rebecca enjoys a busy teaching schedule, a good book and afternoon tea.

  • Musetta - Angharad Morgan

    Angharad Morgan


    Angharad Morgan

    Angharad Morgan studied at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the Wales International Academy of Voice in Cardiff. She was one of the first recipients of a Career Development Award from the Bryn Terfel Foundation.

    In 2012, Angharad made her professional debut with Wexford Festival Opera as Second Woman A Village Romeo and Juliet and Peasant Farmer Le roi malgré lui. She joined Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 2013 as a Jerwood Young Artist where she understudied the role of Alice Ford in Falstaff and performed the role of Ione in a new commission, Wakening Shadow by Luke Styles. She returned to perform the role of Dew Fairy in Hänsel und Gretel for their autumn tour and understudied Arminda in La Finta Giardiniera for their 2014 Festival.

    Recent engagements include her role debut as Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust for Swansea City Opera and Alice Ford in Falstaff for Opera Project at the Tobacco Factory, Bristol.

  • Rodolfo - Shaun Dixon

    Shaun Dixon



    Shaun Dixon

    New Zealand born Shaun Dixon studied at RCM , National Opera Studio and with Luciano Pavarotti. Shaun has appeared with some of the foremost companies and orchestras including RPO, ENO, WNO and Scottish Opera and broadcast both for TVNZ and the BBC. His recent engagements include Rodolfo and Alfredo for Welsh National Opera, Rodolfo and Der Steuermann for Opera New Zealand, Radames and Pinkerton for Opéra de Baugé, and Don José for Zomeropera , Belgium .Other roles include : Cavaradossi Tosca, Duke Rigoletto, Des Grieux Manon, Lensky EugeneOnegin, Gonzalve L’Heure ,Espagnole, Alfred Die Fledermaus, Frédéric Lakmé, Arbace Idomeneo, and Nirenus Giulio Cesare.
    Concert repertoire includes :Verdi Requiem, Gounod Messe Solennelle, Dvorak Stabat Mater, Handel Messiah, Haydn The Seasons, Puccini Messa di Gloria, Mendelssohn Elijah, Beethoven 9thSymphony, Coleridge-Taylor Hiawatha, Bach St Matthew Passion and St John Passion, Schubert Mass in G, Beethoven Mass in C, and Andrew-Loyd Weber Requiem.

  • Rodolfo - Andrew Dickinson

    Andrew Dickinson


    Andrew Dickinson

    Andrew was born in Liverpool and studied at the Royal Academy. He won the 2014 UK Wagner Society Competition and the Maureen Lehane Competition at the Wigmore Hall. Recent and future plans include Novice Billy Budd, 3rd Jew Salome‚ Pollux Die Liebe Danae and Da Ud Die Egyptische Helena (Deutsche Oper, Berlin), Flute A Midsummer Nights’ Dream (Hyogo, Japan), Dancairo Carmen and St Brioche The Merry Widow (Scottish Opera)‚ Hadji Lakmé (Opera Holland Park)‚ Tom Rakewell The Rake’s Progress (Bury Court Opera)‚ Gerhard Gloria – A Pigtail (Bregenz Festspiel)‚ Ernesto Don Pasquale (Opera Project)‚ George The Crackle (ROH)‚ Male Chorus The Rape of Lucretia (Glyndebourne)‚ Lenski Eugene Onegin (Bury Court Opera)‚ Albert Albert Herring (Royal Academy) and Ferrando Così fan tutte (Clonter Opera).
    Concerts include Messiah (Royal Festival Hall, Stephansdom Cathedral ,Vienna and the Lizst Academy, Budapest), Mozart’s Requiem (Royal Albert Hall)‚ Berlioz’s Grande Messe de Morts (Winchester Cathedral)‚ Bach’s B Minor Mass (Bolzano)‚ Elgar’s The Apostles‚ Mendelssohn’s Elijah (Jordan)‚ Britten’s War Requiem (Dunblane) and Bach’s St Matthew Passion (Canterbury Cathedral).

  • Marcello - Håkan Vramsmo

    Håkan Vramsmo


    Hakan Vramsmo

    Håkan Vramsmo has appeared at major venues and festivals including the BBC Proms’ opening night, Wigmore Hall, Bridgewater Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Stuttgart Liederhalle, Sibeliusacademin, Aldeburgh, Bath, and Cheltenham with such pianists as Iain Burnside, Julius Drake, Bengt Forsberg, Graham Johnson, Roger Vignoles, Llyr Williams and Andrew West. He has also appeared with the Hebridies Ensemble, Carducci Quartett, Gabrieli Consort, Sharoun Ensembles, BBC Symphony, Jerusalem, City of Birmingham, Bournemouth, English Chamber, Wroclaw, Zagreb, Barcelona, Gothenburg, and Malmö Symphony Orchestras conducted by Martyn Brabbins, Paul McCreech, Leonard Slatkin, Sir David Willcocks and Leon Botstein. He has frequently recorded for BBC, Private Joe by Panufnik for Polish radio, B-minor Mass on Signum Records and Elisabeth Maconchy’s opera The Departure for Chandos Records. His has sang 25 operatic roles and he created Axel in Meredith’s Tarantula in Petrol Blue, Carl in Colerige-Taylor’s Thelma and Pascoe in Huw Watkins’ In the Locked Room. Håkan teaches singing at Citylit Institute in London and is invited to Masterclasses at the Koninklijk Conservatoire Brussel.

  • Schaunard - Mark Saberton

    Mark Saberton


    Mark Saberton

    Mark grew up in Suffolk and studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. He has worked for most major UK companies including Royal Opera, English National Opera, Opera North, Scottish Opera and Garsington Opera.
    Roles for Kentish Opera include the title role in Rigoletto and Amonasro (Aida); Bottom (Midsummer Night’s Dream) for Longborough Festival Opera and recently Mephistopheles (Faust) for Swansea City Opera. He has recorded and performed Ben Budge (Beggars Opera) for Royal Opera with the City of London Sinfonia.
    Mark often performs Oratorio, including Brahms’ Requiem at Birmingham Symphony Hall and Orff’s Carmina Burana at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. Future Engagements include Starek in Jenufa for Longborough Festival Opera and Don Giovanni for Heritage Opera.

  • Colline - Marcin Gesla

    Marcin Gesla



    Marcin Gesla

    Marcin Gesla – bass, started his singing education in Poland where in 2006 he completed his Master degree in vocal studies. The same year he was awarded a scholarship to attend the Royal Academy of Music, where in 2009 he completed the Postgraduate Opera Course with Distinction.
    Last seasons Marcin sung Sparafucile in Rigoletto and Angelotti in Tosca for Opera Brava. He also sung Bonze YA Programme in Madama Butterfly for Opera Holland Park, King in Aida for Kentish Opera, Zuniga in Carmen for Impact Opera and Riverside Opera.
    He took part in British premiere of Lord Berners’ Le Carrosse as Thomas d’Esquivel for Dorset Opera. Marcin covered Il Commendatore (Don Giovanni) and Don Fernando in Fidelio for Garsington Opera. For Fulham Opera he sung Angelotti in Tosca and Betto in Gianni Schicchi which role he also sung at Wexford Festival Opera.
    At Glyndebourne he covered Hans Folz in Wagner Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg . In Germany he sung Doctor Grenvil and Baron Douphol (cover) La Traviata in Schwerin. One of his favourite roles is Sarastro in Magic Flute which he sung for The London Festival Opera. His most frequently sung role is Colline in La Boheme and he did it for Longborough Festival Opera, Opera North (cover), New London Opera Players and most recently covered for Gubbay Productions in Royal Albert Hall.

  • Benoit & Alcindoro - Paul Hudson

    Paul Hudson

    Benoit & Alcindoro

    Paul Hudson

    Paul studied at the Royal College of Music and the London Opera Centre. He has made over 600 appearances in principal roles with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden.

    Other roles of particular note in the UK include: Philip (Don Carlos) and Raleigh (Gloriana) with ENO; Colline (Boheme), Athlete (Lulu) and Bottom (Midsummer Night’s Dream) with WNO; Figaro (Marriage of Figaro) and Daland (Flying Dutchman) with Opera North.

    International engagements include performances in Dallas; in San Francisco as Colline (Boheme), Bailiff (Werther) and Dansker (Billy Budd)); in San Diego as Swallow (Peter Grimes); in Pittsburgh as Sparafucile (Rigoletto); in South Africa as Fiesco (Simone Boccanegra) and Don Basilio (Barber of Seville); in Australia as Mephisto (Faust) and Figaro (Marriage of Figaro); in Buenos Aires, Chile as The King (Aida); in Japan, Spain and France.

    Paul has a number of DVDs on release including ‘Lucrezia Borgia’, ‘Fanciulla del West’, ‘Pirates of Penzance’, ‘Ruddigore’ and Bach ‘Magnificat’. His CD recordings include works with Solti, Bernstein, Boulez and Levine.

    Previous roles with Swansea City Opera include: Sarastro (Magic Flute), Basilio (Barber of Seville), Nourabad (Pearl Fishers) and the title role of Don Pasquale.





  • Waiter - Martin Quinn

    Martin Quinn


    Martin Quinn

    Martin studied at the Royal Northern College of Music with Anthony Roden and  Justin Lavender.

    Martin has worked with many of Britain’s leading opera companies, roles include: Ruiz Il Trovatore and Morales Carmen (Stowe Opera), Leonard Merryll Yeomen of the Guard (BYO, Lindbury Studio, Covent Garden), Strephon Iolanthe (Guildford Opera), Ernesto Don Pasquale (Pavilion Opera-Manila, Philippines), Dr Blind Die Fledermaus/ Goro Madam Butterfly (Opera Box). He has also worked extensively in opera chorus: The Abduction from the Seraglio (BYO, Lindbury Studio, Covent Garden), Lucia di Lammermoor, Eugene Onegin, Rusalka , Don Carlos (Stowe Opera), Der Rosenkavlier (Spoleto Festival, Italy) conducted by Richard Hickox, Pearl Fishers/ Daughter of the Regiment/Barber of Seville (Swansea City Opera) and La Traviata/ Don Giovanni (English Touring Opera).

    Recent concert engagements have included: Mozart Requiem (Christchurch Cathedral, Oxford) and Coronation Mass with Emma Kirkby, Messiah, West Side Story Suites ‘Action’ (Oxford Philomusica), Bach Bminor Mass (Leicester Bach Choir), Song of Creation by Will Todd (premiere performance), Mahler’s Symphony No.8 (Wholsey Orchestra, Ipswich under Peter Stark) and Britten Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings (Stamford Chamber Orchestra), Beethoven Symphony No.9 (Bardi Orchestra), Beethoven Mass in C (Leicester University Chamber Orchestra), St. John Passion (Voices of Little Venice), Messiah (City of Leicester Singers), Mozart Vespers/ Haydn Harmony Mass and Evangelist in St.John Passion (Brackley Jubilee Choir), Mozart Coronation Mass (Woodstock Music Society), Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle/ Bach St. John Passion/ Israel in Egypt (St. James Singers, Warwick), Don Jose Carmen (Bicester Choral Society), Elgar Dream of Gerontius (Banbury Choral Society).


  • Conductor - John Beswick

    John Beswick


    John Beswick 2

    John was organ scholar of Hertford College, Oxford before postgraduate studies at the Guildhall School of Music (repetiteur) and The Royal College of Music (conducting). He has worked on the music staff for Icelandic National Opera and Grange Park Opera, and has conducted for companies including Pimlico Opera, London City Opera and Swansea City Opera.  He has conducted many shows, including Les Miserables (West End), Miss Saigon (UK Tour), Avenue Q (West End) and Damon Albarn’s opera Monkey: Journey to the West (Monkeys’ World at the O2); and has also played keyboards on a great many others including Jersey Boys, Legally Blonde and The Full Monty. John has also worked on many youth music theatre shows and student productions at home and abroad, and has clocked up almost 6 months ‘inside’ having thrice been Musical Director for Pimlico Opera’s prison projects. Currently he is Musical Director for Swansea City Opera and Principal Conductor of Redhill Sinfonia.

  • Director - Brendan Wheatley

    Brendan Wheatley


    Brendan Wheatley

    Brendan was born in Hinckley, Leicestershire and studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he was awarded a three year scholarship on the performers course. Another scholarship awarded to him at the end of this course enabled him to attend the Opera Course for a further year but this was cut short when he auditioned for Glyndebourne Festival Opera and was immediately offered a contract. Brendan sang for three seasons with Glyndebourne, making his debut as ‘The Keeper of the Madhouse’ in the internationally acclaimed production of Stravinsky’s The Rakes Progress, designed by David Hockney.
    After leaving Glyndebourne, Brendan pursued his career as a freelance singer working with many companies both in Britain and abroad, and has now sung many major roles – from Don Giovanni to The Flying Dutchman – he also created the role of Figaro in the world premiere of Giles Swayne’s Le Nozze di Cherubino. His concert and oratorio work has taken him to such prestigious places as The South Bank, Royal Albert Hall, Huddersfield Town Hall and many cathedrals and churches throughout Britain. In 1989 he founded the touring company Opera Box with his partner Bridgett Gill, over the years directing many operas for the company. In 2004 the company received funding from the City & County of Swansea, and became Swansea City Opera.

  • Asst Conductor - Harry Sever

    Harry Sever

    Asst Conductor

    Harry Sever

    Harry Sever studied at Oxford and trained at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where he was awarded the Concert Recital Diploma (premier prix). He has performed at the Royal Albert Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, and at the Barbican.
    Harry is the musical director for several companies, including Merry Opera (La Bohème), Pop-Up Productions HK (Beijing Bohème), and WorkshOPERA (Boys of Paradise and East o’ the Sun, West o’ the Moon at the Tête-à-Tête festival). As an assistant, he has worked with Independent Opera / Britten Sinfonia at Sadler’s Wells (Biedermann and the Arsonists)
    As a composer, scores for the theatre include The Kreutzer Sonata and My Mother Said I Never Should (The Theatre, Chipping Norton), King Lear and As You Like It (Minack Theatre, Cornwall), and The Cat in the Cupboard (Little Angel Theatre, Islington). For the screen, credits include Stalker (CBS).

  • Chorus - Choirs



    27/02/2016  Queen’s Theatre Barnstaple

    North Devon Choral Society

    01/03/2016  Theatre by the lake Keswick


    05/03/2016 Middlesbrough Theatre

    Tees Valley G&S Society

    08/03/2016 Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds

    12/03/2016 Festival Theatre Pitlochry

    Pitlochry & District Choral Society

    20/03/2016 Palace Theatre Mansfield

    Voice to Voice

    23/03/2016 Harrogate Theatre

    Cadenza Singers

    31/03/2016 Ffrwnes Llanelli

    Brecon Singers

    02/04/2016 Theatr Brycheiniog Brecon

    Brecon Singers

    07/04/2016 The Octagon Yeovil

    North Devon Choral Society

    09/04/2016 The Riverfront Newport

    Brecon Singers

    15/04/2016 The Courtyard Hereford

    Gwent Bach Society

    17/04/2016  New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich

    Rabble Chorus

    21/04/2016  Theatre Royal Winchester

    23/04/2016  Borough Theatre Abergavenny

    Gwent Bach Society

    29/04/2016  Queen Ethelburga’s School Collegiate

    Queen Ethelburga’s School Choir

    30/04/2016  The Spa Theatre Bridlington

    Cadenza Singers

    04/05/2016  Theatre Severn Shrewsbury

    Temponilla Choir

    06/05/2016  Taliesin Theatre Swansea

    Brynmill Uplands Community Choir

    13/05/2016  Neuadd Dwyfor Pwllheli

    14/05/2016 Ucheldre Centre Holyhead

    21/05/2016  Torch Theatre Milford Haven

    Haverfordwest Operatic Society

    26/05/2016  Roses Theatre Tewkesbury

    28/05/2016 Theatre Royal Margate

    29/05/2016 Wilde Theatre Bracknell

    Yateley Choral Society & Park Opera

La boheme Synopsis

La boheme Synopsis

La bohème

ACT I. Paris, Christmas Eve 1945. In their Latin Quarter garret, the painter Marcello and poet Rodolfo try to keep warm by burning pages from Rodolfo’s latest drama. They are joined by their comrades — Colline, a young philosopher, and Schaunard, a musician who has landed a job and brings food, fuel and funds. But while they celebrate their unexpected fortune, the landlord, Benoit, arrives to collect the rent. Plying the older man with wine, they urge him to tell of his flirtations, then throw him out in mock indignation. As the friends depart for a celebration at the nearby Café Momus, Rodolfo promises to join them soon, staying behind to finish writing an article. There is another knock: a neighbour, Mimì, says her candle has gone out on the drafty stairs. Offering her wine when she feels faint, Rodolfo relights her candle and helps her to the door. Mimì realizes she has dropped her key, and as the two search for it, both candles are blown out. In the moonlight the poet takes the girl’s shivering hand, telling her his dreams. She then recounts her solitary life, embroidering flowers and waiting for spring. Drawn to each other, Mimì and Rodolfo leave for the café.

ACT II. Amid crowds of town folk, Rodolfo buys Mimì a bonnet near the Café Momus before introducing her to his friends. They all sit down and order supper. Marcello’s former lover, Musetta, enters ostentatiously on the arm of an American Officer, Alcindoro. Trying to regain the painter’s attention, she sings a waltz about her popularity. Complaining that her shoe pinches, Musetta sends Alcindoro to fetch a new pair, then falls into Marcello’s arms. Joining a group of marching soldiers, the Bohemians leave Alcindoro to face the bill when he returns.

ACT III. At dawn on the cold outskirts of Paris, a Customs Officer admits farm women to the city. Musetta and revelers are heard inside a tavern. Soon Mimì walks by, searching for the place where the reunited Marcello and Musetta now live. When the painter emerges, she pours out her distress over Rodolfo’s incessant jealousy. It is best they part, she says. Rodolfo, who has been asleep in the tavern, is heard, and Mimì hides; Marcello thinks she has left. The poet tells Marcello he wants to separate from his fickle sweetheart. Pressed further, he breaks down, saying Mimì is dying; her ill health can only worsen in the poverty they share. Overcome, Mimì stumbles forward to bid her lover farewell as Marcello runs back into the tavern to investigate Musetta’s raucous laughter. While Mimì and Rodolfo recall their happiness, Musetta quarrels with Marcello. The painter and his mistress part in fury, but Mimì and Rodolfo decide to stay together until spring.

ACT IV. Some months later, Rodolfo and Marcello lament their loneliness in the garret. Colline and Schaunard bring a meager meal. The four stage a dance, which turns into a mock fight. The merrymaking is ended when Musetta bursts in, saying Mimì is downstairs, too weak to climb up. As Rodolfo runs to her, Musetta tells how Mimì has begged to be taken to her lover to die. While Mimì is made comfortable, Marcello goes with Musetta to sell her earrings for medicine, and Colline leaves to pawn his cherished overcoat. Alone, Mimì and Rodolfo recall their first days together, but she is seized with coughing. When the others return, Musetta gives Mimì a muff to warm her hands and prays for her life. Mimì dies quietly, and when Schaunard discovers she is dead, Rodolfo runs to her side, calling her name.

Press Reviews

Press Reviews

Richard Westcott sees Swansea City Opera’s La Bohème by Puccini at the Queen’s Theatre, Barnstaple posted 2nd March 2016

To place La Bohème in 1940s war-torn Paris wonderfully refreshed one of the best known operas of all time with new life and immediacy. Here were young people – and, in this particular opera, how appropriate, indeed invigorating, to hear and see young rather than older (even if “famous”) performers – ready to fall in love, to enjoy as well as suffer wild swings of emotion, to fool around yet to be confronted by the question of their own identities… not to mention death itself.

This thoroughly convincing approach was reinforced by plausible and distinctive characterisation all round – Rebecca Goulden presented a more interesting minx-like Mimi than many a conventional shrinking violet, Shaun Dixon brought an attractive impulsive spontaneity to Rodolpho and Marcello’s emotional confusions were completely persuasive.

Not to mention a richness among the minor parts such as Paul Hudson’s put-upon Alcindoro and Martin Quinn’s exasperated waiter. And what a Musetta!

Transport and economy issues may have been the underlying reasons, but staging the whole opera in virtually the same set added strength and reality. These were cold, hungry and impoverished people, aware of external powers sweeping in, be they liberating foreign soldiers, or just – just – a sinister landlord. Right from the start, we felt the cold.

A raw production then, based in and communicating real life. So it was a good idea to use local people, which not only avoided that unwelcome feeling sometimes experienced with small companies when one is made aware of the small number of cast members, but rooted the action in our own community, further contributing to making the opera even more here-and-now. That some of their acting was better than others and that not everything was polished almost helped this the more. Real life is of course not always in balance.

There were some problems with balance. At times the orchestral accompaniment over-powered the singers. One appreciates that a travelling show has little opportunity to work on this to get it perfect, and that the variety of venues, and perhaps ours in particular, makes achieving balance very difficult, but it was a shame that well enough projected and articulated vocal lines were sometimes lost. As a result, it was often hard to hear the words.

(And while we’re on words, this was a bit of a creaky translation, with old-fashioned vocabulary such as ‘slowcoach’ – though admittedly splendidly enlivened at times with some basic Anglo-Saxon, such as Musetta’s throwaway insult to Marcello, too rude to reproduce here.)

But, happily, back to the music. With an ingenious arrangement for a small band (I could have sworn I heard a real harp, for example) and fine individual and ensemble playing (there may have been a few hesitant and false entries, but this is the beginning of the run) the orchestra’s contribution was excellent – spirited, yet sensitive.

Which qualities were well in evidence in the moving final scene. Highly effective lighting, creative use of that simple set and space, captivating acting and some superb singing beautifully supported by the orchestra all made for a truly authentic poignancy. This may have been Second World War Paris, but it was also a Bohème for our times.

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Review of La Bohëme by Jonathan Denny
Friday 4th March 2016

The Swansea City Opera bought their production of Puccini’s La Bohëme to Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake on Tuesday treating the lucky audience to a stunningly powerful performance of the much-loved opera which left everyone in raptures. Using very effective minimalist set design and updated from the 1830s to Paris in 1945-46, the simple tale of love and tragic death was brought to life by the artists who produced quality performances that brought laughter and tears in turn to a spellbound audience.The show opens on Christmas Eve with poet Rodolfo, tenor Shaun Dixon, and painter Marcello, baritone Hakan Vramsmo, trying to keep warm in their Bohemian garret in the Latin quarter of Paris. They are soon joined by their friends, philosopher Colline, bass Marcin Gesla, and musician Schaunard, baritone Mark Saberton, and the four of them amusingly sing of their poverty.
The reflective opening duet between Rodolfo and Marcello and the subsequent quartet with the four friends were sung beautifully and touchingly with great interplay between the characters. The friends move on to a café with musician Schaunard’s earnings leaving Rodolfo to finish a piece of writing and he chances
upon the consumptive but beautiful seamstress Mimi, soprano Rebecca Goulden.
Mimi and Rodolfo soon get to know each other as he sings ‘Your tiny hand is frozen’ and she takes up the singing with ‘They call me Mimi’. A beautiful love duet ensues and the couple declare their love for each other, her frailty making her beauty more appealing. The heart wrenching duet brings the first act to a moving end.
Act Two takes place in a nearby café and introduces Musetta, soprano Angharad Morgan, as the flirty old flame of Marcello who tries to attract the attention of the painter as he, his friends and Mimi partake of food and drink. Rodolfo’s jealousy is already beginning to show and the four friends and the two women sing together of love and jealousy; the stunning ensemble singing bringing the act to a stupendous end.

Act Three takes place near a tavern outside the city after a few months have passed – Mimi’s illness has worsened and Rodolfo’s jealousy has increased. Marcello and Rodolfo are in the tavern and Mimi arrives outside; a message from her brings Marcello outside. The two sing a duet with real emotion during which Mimi tells of Rodolfo’s jealousy which makes her fear that they must part. Mimi hides when Rodolfo arrives and she hears him tell his friend that his jealousy causes frequent quarrels which may lead to their parting. Mimi’s coughing reveals her presence and the two lovers decide to part regretfully and wish each other well. Their tortured feelings for each other provide for a very moving scene and the quality of the singing was entrancing as they sang ‘Our time for parting’s when the roses blow’ which truly pulled on the heartstrings.

Act Four sees the four friends back at their flat where Rodolfo and Marcello long for their lost loves. The four try to forget sorrow and poverty with a wild dance and mock fight before Musetta enters with the news that Mimi is dying and as a last request has asked to be brought back to the flat. Rodolfo rushes to her side and the others rush out to pawn their possessions to buy medicine whilst Colline sings an extraordinary song to his coat before selling it for food. Rodolfo and the dying Mimi are left alone and they sing beautifully to each other, recalling their early love before the others return and offer the dying girl their gifts. She dies quietly and Rodolfo falls sobbing at her side while the others turn away to hide their emotions and the curtain falls.

Words cannot really do justice to the quality of the singing throughout; the principals sang beautifully and their performances were utterly convincing with the effect on the audience profound. Paul Hudson and Martin Quinn contributed fantastic cameo roles and the Committed 2 Rock choir played their part admirably in
two scenes. The young eight piece orchestra performed magnificently under the direction of conductor John Beswick and the top-notch singing in English throughout was a joy to the ear and in no way compromised the authenticity of the performances.

La Bohème 2016
Stephen Frazer, Opera Scotland
March 2016

It is now ten years since Opera Box took the name Swansea City Opera to reflect their sponsorship. The company is again on a national tour. They cover an area from Devon to Middlesbrough quite intensively, this year at twenty-four locations. They always seem to travel up to Scotland for one extra night, often to Pitlochry Festival Theatre, a venue that suits their company very well. It does not have a pit, but, as with the theatre’s own musical-led season, a small band can fit in easily behind the scenes.
For this tour the opera on offer is Puccini’s La bohème, always welcome. The lush orchestration was edited by the company’s Musical Director John Beswick for a reduced band of nine players – a string quintet, a trio of winds (flute/piccolo, clarinet, bassoon) and keyboard. The result was generally effective, perhaps only noticeably lacking in volume during the more emotional climaxes. A feature of this tour is the participation of a small group of local amateurs to provide a chorus for the café and customs scenes – an excellent idea.
Director Brendan Wheatley decided to update the work in a way that worked unusually well. By setting it in Paris at the time of the liberation in 1945, the food shortages and health problems were immediately credible. With penicillin not yet generally available, TB was still a recognized endemic threat. The whole set up was reminiscent of Sartre’s classic Roads to Freedom. There were other clever touches – having Alcindoro as a bewildered US Army officer worked well. The lines of Parpignol the toy-seller were taken by an omnipresent waiter character in the café.
There were some particularly good performances. Mimì and Musetta were clearly distinguished. Rebecca Goulden was always sweet-toned but her soprano also had the kind of depth that the role of Mimi needs, and she was a subtle actress. Angharad Morgan’s voice was brighter, but never shrill, and her platinum-blonde Musetta also looked ideal. The men generally blended well as a quartet, with Håkan Vramsmo’s Marcello particularly good. Shaun Dixon, as Rodolfo, took a while to gauge the size of the house, and was a bit loud in the early acts – but his projection settled down nicely after the interval. It was good to be re-acquainted with Paul Hudson – a veteran of performances with WNO, ENO and Covent Garden, but hardly ever seen in Scotland. He had the usual roles involving doubling of landlord and sugar-daddy, but also gave us a sharply-etched gendarme. The conductor was the company’s Assistant Musical Director, Harry Sever, in what was John Beswick’s only scheduled night off during the tour. All went well.
This visit by the company from Swansea seems to be now a regular event, and a definite highlight of Pitlochry’s ‘close’ seasons.

Joshua Nicholas South Wales Argos

12th April

SWANSEA City Opera’s La Boheme came to Newport on Saturday night and the word that springs to mind is simply ‘power.’ For those who have never seen an opera live before, I would easily recommend it.

Handily translated into English and updated at the artistic director’s discretion from 1830s to 1945-1946 to make it ‘more relevant’ to a modern audience, La Boheme is a tale of blossoming love and untimely death in the aftermath of the Second World War in Paris. The cast each boasted impressive career credits including working with Luciano Pavarotti himself. This was indicative of the quality on offer, with the stars hailing from as far away as New Zealand to take part in this 25-date tour of the country.
There were some moments that were truly breathtaking. The full might of 15+ actors on stage singing in unison was stunning, particularly soprano Angharad Morgan – whose vocals were so strong I could hardly believe they were live. For fans of opera this is a must-see, and for novices it’s a great opportunity to see what opera has to offer.

A heart-felt story, fantastic musical accompaniment and mesmerising vocals. An excellent evening indeed. Visit

A Truly Bohemian Rhapsody.

La Boheme

Theatre Severn

4th May 2016

Opera fans and first timers piled into Theatre Severn tonight to share in the welcome return of The Swansea City Opera and their adaptation of Puccini’s La Boheme.

Originally  the Opera was set in early nineteenth century Paris.  Artistic Director, Brendan Wheatley brought it a little nearer in time and set it in nineteen forty-five Paris.

The war was over the Germans had been defeated. Winston and De Gaulle has walked as brothers down the Champs Elysees. France was itself consumed with revenge on the collaborators and trying to recover. The picture to the rest of the world was one of victory.  However the poor as after every war, win or not,  were hungry and they were cold. Wheatley brilliantly spotted the parities and showed us that in 100 years of man’s civilisation not much had changed for the poor.

The show opened with a delightful scene as we meet our four Bohemian room-mates. Poet Rodolfo, Marcello a painter, Schanaurd a Musician and Philosopher, Colline. All tortured souls just as every Artist needs to be.

Tracing the love lives of Rodolfo as he is captured in the beauty of Mimi an impoverished Seamstress;  and social climber Musetta,  a female singer. We see as she plays her rich American army officer husband Alcindoro, against starving painter  Marcello.  Needless to say tangled webs are weaved in a story of deception, love and tragedy.

Initially there was great levity and an hilarious moment when the three friends had all agreed to being broke and cold burned the first act of Randolfo’s play to keep warm. But in comes Schanaurd laden with cash and food as he has earned some money playing in the town for a rich man’s parrot. The job was to last until the parrot died. Sadly it was a short but fruitful engagement.

Putting the narrative to one side we turn our attention to design. Mr. Wheatley has been busy not only was he Artistic Director but the set was his design too. It is that design that is so crucial.

Sometimes when watching an opera unfold, whilst it can be a wonderful experience the storyline may get lost. Why? There are many reasons, clarity of vocal, balance against the orchestra and the overall design. But in truth Opera is a restrictive discipline; everything needs to be presented in song.  Consequently semiotics or signs are an important part of the show and it is the designer’s job to reflect those signs and gestures to help. Where an actor may normally use a dialogue to move forward an opera singer may not.

So the question presents itself, how does one receive the information to make the event work: It is down to costume, movement, body gestures and crucially, design.

Swansea City Opera are so strong in this department offering up wonderfully simplistic sets, stylised but totally readable. The set for La Boheme is back-dropped by a montage of photographs of 1945 post war Paris. The montage fills the entire upstage wall. In front of this are two large stylised window frames and the stage was bare except for a few pieces of furniture. It was then that one sees the importance of design and semiotics.

The CVs of the cast make such impressive reading and all those years of experience are clear to see as Altos, Tenors and Soprano voices soar and dance with the wonderful music provided from the pit by the excellent Swansea City Opera Orchestra under the masterly swishes of John Beswick’s conductor’s baton..

It is always such a difficult job to name names. To pick out the ones for special mention. When the whole cast is golden it’s difficult to judge who glistens most. That said the beauty, the strength and the power of Rebecca Goulden’s  Mimi, was something that one won’t forget in a hurry. If a singer can bring tears of emotion to the eye of this steely reviewer she must be doing something right.

Likewise Martin Quinn gets a special mention for his wonderfully comic portrayal of the French Waiter. He was a jewel. For the whole of scene one , act two, he was the busiest man on the stage. He didn’t upstage anybody as this is a team piece and all sides are equal, but he enhanced the scene no end with his hilarious characterisation. Highly entertaining.

The work of the Swansea City Opera is crucial. They are presenting Opera in an accessible and fun way. They can deliver humour as cleverly as they deliver pathos.

Noticeably they are seeing all generations in their audiences and the fact is, they have a talent for demystifying Opera and presentering it back to all the people regardless of class, age or creed they put Opera out there:  And that is  exactly where it should be. Long may they continue.

This is a four star review.

Owen J.Lewis


La BohèmeSwansea City Opera at the Harrogate Theatre, March 23
Opera Magazine June 2016 edition. Review by Martin Dreyer
Since shedding its Opera Box chrysalis in 2004, Swansea City Opera has flown many a mile. Its three-month tour of La Bohème, for example, included 25 one-night stands, in venues ranging from Barnstaple to Margate, and Pwllheli to Pitlochry, all relatively small towns and fewer than a third of them in Wales. So much for statistics. The company keeps costs to a minimum by using local singers as chorus; in Harrogate this involved six members of the Yorkshire-based group Cadenza. The orchestra, too, is much reduced, typically single wind and brass based around a string quintet and keyboard.
Brendan Wheatley’s production moved the action from 1830 to the immediate post-World War II period, while American troops were still around. So the permanent backdrop was a collage of Parisian images featuring troops and locals in celebratory mood. This worked well for the first half, less so at the customs gate or at Mimì’s death, where the irony became oppressive. Gabriella Ingram’s costumes were vintage 1940s, though Schaunard’s three-piece suit and Rodolfo’s slightly too natty jacket suggested bohemians rather above the poverty line. Most of the cuts came in Act 2, where Parpignol and the children were absent, and the abridged parade was indicated only by the singers waving into the auditorium. The act ended so abruptly that Alcindoro, a distraught American officer, had no chance to query his bill. Puccini’s colour-contrasts were thereby lessened but this barely affected the success of the evening on its own terms.
Rebecca Goulden was an engaging Mimì, her soprano moving smoothly from coy ingénue to tender-hearted lover, with excellent control at the top. She is a protégée of Mary Plazas and very much in her mould. Her charismatic Rodolfo was Shaun Dixon, whose flexible but often boisterous tenor needed more lyricism; a beautifully floated cadence near the end of Act 3 marked a rare variation in his tone. Angharad Morgan was a confident, preening Musetta, despite the handicap of an unruly blonde wig. Håkan Vramsmo brought a warm baritone to Marcello, and Mark Saberton made a fiery Schaunard, while Marcin Gesla’s bass sound suited Colline but needed sharper diction. The versatile Paul Hudson doubled as Benoît and Alcindoro; Martin Quinn injected some camp foolery as a waiter. John Beswick kept his small band on its toes, supporting his singers sympathetically. The Ruth and Thomas Martin translation was tarted up with some choice swear words, but not offensively. Whether Wheatley’s updated scenario was more ‘relevant’—his word—to a younger audience is debatable; dumbing down is always the danger. Here, however, even with these relatively well-heeled bohemians, it worked. What remained undeniable was the value of these nationwide excursions. Pound for pound, government support will always have a greater impact on small companies like SCO than on besieged choruses in big cities. We need them both.

South Wales Evening Post
Sunday May 17th by Mark Rees

THEY might not have the budget of a national company, but that didn’t stop Swansea City Opera putting on a high quality production that gets to the heart of a good opera — a solid live orchestra, a strong leading cast, and a touch of inventiveness when it comes to the staging. An intimate performance sung in English, the Puccini favourite was dragged into the 20th Century to 1940s post-war France, a change of scenery which worked remarkably well. With poverty still rife in the period, the challenges faced by the bohemians at the heart of the tale remained the same as they tried to make the best of their circumstances as penniless creatives in search of food, warmth and love. Some elements were trimmed to keep things manageable, the most noticeable omission being old favourite Parpignol the toy seller, which in no way detracted from a performance which captured — in the first half, at least — the sense of fun intrinsic to the gang of friends, making the looming tragedy that much more poignant .


Audience Reviews

Audience Reviews

A most enjoyable evening – Puccini would be pleased, AND in Shaun Dixon an exciting singer and actor. Cherish him.

I attended La Boheme at the Theatre by the Lake last night. It was my first time going to the Opera. I just felt that I had to thank everyone who was part of this for a most wonderful night. The direction, set and acting was absolutely amazing and the musicians were second to none. I cannot praise this highly enough and having had the opportunity to meet the director and cast. I felt extremely lucky to get a chance to speak more about the production and the company. It has whetted my appetite for opera and I will now be searching for opportunities to see more and introduce family and friends to this amazing medium which brought me so much pleasure. Thanks again to all involved.
We always try to visit the theatre on our annual visit to Keswick. It was interesting to have an opera performance instead of a play and we thought that the standard of performance was very high.

Enjoyed a wonderful performance at Middlesbrough Theatre last night. The cast were brilliant; Brendan Wheatley’s staging was excellent and the post war setting worked so well. I knew some of the arias in Italian previously but found that they lost none of their beauty in English. Well done everyone and come back soon.
Tremendous performance tonight in Middlesbrough. Wonderful principal singers and great support from our local G&S society. We thoroughly enjoyed our evening, just a pity the theatre wasn’t full.
It was so lovely to have a professional opera company here in Middlesbrough!!!
5 stars! Thoroughly enjoyed the production of La Boheme at Middlesbrough Theatre last night. Would definitely recommend seeing it if you get the chance.

Music & singing excellent, diction a a bit hard to follow at times.

Thoroughly enjoyed the production of La Boheme at Middlesbrough Theatre last night. Would definitely recommend seeing it if you get the chance.
Bury St Edmunds
What a treat to have such a high standard of opera come to Bury St Edmunds. We’d never heard of Swansea City Opera, so had no idea what to expect, but the performances were excellent. Hearing the score played on a slimmed down orchestra was interesting – it’s so good to be reminded that opera can be just as powerful and immediate with a tiny budget, stage, orchestra and chorus, as in the biggest, plushest opera houses.The theatre was sold out and I’m not surprised – we will definitely come back for your next visit.

The music is wonderful right through. The singing was excellent as was the whole production – and in English. My wife’s cousin was the conductor Charles Mackerras, we saw – years ago – La boheme at the Oper, Munich, with Mirella Freni. Talk was very good and informative.

Very well acted – indeed very moving. We know the opera well and have seen several theatre productions – this was very well received. Well done. Come up again to Pitlochry.


Thank you so much for bringing us your lovely staging of Boheme yesterday. Beautiful singing, lovely staging and great direction!

Enjoyed very much. The ticket prices were low enough for my Grandad to afford to treat me.

Enjoyed very much. I always look out for your visits to Mansfield and have attended every one so far.

I went to the performance in Mansfield last night and was absolutely brilliant, thoroughly enjoyed it and fantastic singers. Thank you for coming to Mansfield


Wonderful evening last night in Harrogate – beautiful production and music, excellent singers. A really heart-rending performance of La Boheme; many congratulations to all involved. Why did the local schools not send groups? – they really should!

It is so long since we went to the Opera. This production has really revived our enthusiasm for it. We were enthralled from the first minute. The singing and acting, the orchestra and scenery were all top class. We drove home to Ilkley talking about it all the way. Do come to Harrogate again next year.

Really interesting the production was set near the end of World War 2, as opposed to the 19th century. I enjoyed that aspect. Strong performances by all concerned on stage (at Harrogate Theatre). Excellent orchestra too. Bought the program, found it very informative and good value at three quid. Really liked the artwork on the front cover. I would definitely consider coming to see another production by Swansea City Opera.

The talk set the scene amazingly and the backdrop looking through the windows was wonderful!! The translation from French to English did affect the atmosphere slightly!! Great performance by one and all!!!!  Good luck in the future!!!!


A lovely performance, with a subtle twist. Accomplished performances. Please come again to Ffwrness, or even closer to Carmarthen as we are Opera lovers and have difficulty attending many venues due to accessibility requirements.


Really enjoyed La boheme – absolutely marvellous. The Rodolfo was incredible, I’ve never seen a Rodolfo dominate a performance quite like that before, he was absolutely wonderful. A thoroughly enjoyable evening.


I certainly have enjoyed the experience of working with the Swansea city Opera. It has been challenging and quite different from our normal choral work and I feel a certain pride in our achievement of working together successfully. – Member of the choir


Thanks to Swansea City Opera for their absolutely brilliant production of La Boheme, which we saw in Newport last night. We loved the fact that it was set just after World War 2; the costumes and scenery were just perfect and it’s difficult to put into words just how fabulous the whole thing was. This morning, I can still hear the powerful, heart rendering performances of the excellent singers and orchestra. Just beautiful. My husband is definitely keen to see another Opera so thank you for bringing such a beautiful story alive for him.


Enjoyed very much, high standard of singing & playing: good to have a ‘live’ pit orchestra and to find the theatre well filled for a classical music event. Didn’t attend pre-show talk as had booked a pre-show meal in Cryd’s restaurant!


Well done Swansea City Opera. I have been attending your touring performances since Opera Box days. We saw La Boheme at The New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich last night and it was wonderful. Superb singing voices as well as great acting. I’ve never heard this sung in English before! Once I got used to it, I found it added detail to this well known story.

EXCELLENT! Were not aware of SCO. La Boheme was amazing, the cast were superb and the orchestra. We have seen it many times but my Dad (91 years old) and two daughters and myself had a lovely evening. MORE PLEASE!

Was not aware of pre-show talk. Having seen 2 previous Bohemes in period costume I was intrigued by one set in year 1945 in ‘modern dress’. Held together by familiar music I was not disappointed with the transition! While Boheme is my second favourite, and applauding Swansea’s high standards, how about giving Tosca a similar uplifting makeover?  Looking forward very much to your next opera visit to Ipswich!

I thought the whole production was excellent, singing, direction & orcheatra – the cafe scene was especially well done, with the people waiting to get in etc. & the ‘business’ with the waiter etc: (I would have preferred set in the 19thC, as written, but I think I always prefer original settings…..)


Saw La Boheme at Theatre Royal Winchester last night. Not the first time we’ve seen it, and with such a popular opera there’s always a ‘not another Boheme..’ concern; but this performance was up there amongst the best, with excellent singing and some potent acting. The audience loved it – much appreciative chatter afterwards! We really appreciate the scaled-down performances of SCO as being suitable for the smaller, but closer to home, venues like the Theatre Royal and we hope very much you’ll be bringing Lakme to Winchester next year.

Wonderful. Brilliant singing. Great stuff. Will look out for your next visit to Winchester.

I have just been to La boheme at the Theatre Royal, Winchester tonight. It was absolutely superb thank you! Nothing much else to say really! It was great. Please thank all the company for a wonderful performance. Good luck for the future.

We took a party of 20 to see La boheme. We are all senior citizens & many are unable to travel very far to enjoy opera. Your visit to Winchester was greatly appreciated. We all enjoyed it immensely & look forward to your next visit.

Absolutely wonderful performances in Winchester this evening! Amazing voices.


Marvellous La Boheme at Abergavenny last night (Sat 23 April). I have seen quite a few productions by European companies, and can honestly says this was the finest. The set, casting, singing, pace and quality of musicianship were all outstanding. I felt it was truly authentic. Thank you everyone for a wonderful, moving and powerful evening. It’s impact is still resonating.

Liked the updated setting. Superb cast – without a weak link – Shaun Dixon was exceptional. Local chorus a very good idea.

For several years I have attended every operatic event put on at Abergavenny by your company. I have never been disappointed.

Enjoyed very much, we always enjoy the performances.

The voices improve year on year. Stage acting very good. I overheard one patron observing: “I think they could give WNO a run for their money!”


La Boheme at Bridlington Spa last Saturday was wonderful. Every year we look forward to seeing Swansea City Opera, and we have never been disappointed; the musicians and singers are always top class. Even though we have seen this opera many times, we found the final scene especially moving. Many thanks to all concerned, and please come back in 2017.

Saw La Boheme last evening at The Spar, Bridlington. What a very beautiful show and the singing made me tingle. It made it so more enjoyable to listen to it in English, so that one could really enjoy the story. Please thank all the main singers for me. Would you be able to contact me with any further performances at Bridlington? Thank you so much.

I brought a group of 32 as we enjoyed Faust last year. Excellent singing. I have seen over 100 operas on stage and been taking people to theatres for excursions for 41 years. We enjoyed La boheme very much. Will you be returning to Bridlington next year? Could you advise the production.

Enjoyed very much. The ‘showtalk’ was so valuable to my enjoyment of the opera – background does help to understand the story, whichever setting the Director decides to feature. Well done! Thank you all for a most enjoyable evening.

We thought the talk was very good and well explained for the evening performance whcih was outstanding. We will come again when you perform again.

Enjoyed very much. We have season tickets for Opera North and go to as many operas and concerts as possible. Excellent idea to use the 1940’s & I agree let’s hope young people will enjoy opera as much as my husband and I have done for 70 years. My first opera was at three and a half!

Enjoyed very much. A chance to hear opera performed in our local theatre.

Just got home from Bridlington Spa after seeing La Boheme. Could not be happier. A wonderful production of Puccinis finest. The cast and orchestra could fill La Scala. Wonderful. Thanks to all .

Fabulous performance of La Boheme at Bridlington Spa.

Brilliant as usual. It is such a pleasure to see opera at a local venue, at such reasonable prices.

Pre-show talk always interesting, good to have background. The staging v. good and voices brilliant – tho’ sometimes difficult to hear all the female words clearly, (always a problem in opera!) Good to have story in programme. Please come again!

I too saw La Boheme at Bridlington, whilst on holiday there. The pre-show talk was very interesting and entertaining. I have seen opera on TV so this was my first experience watching a live performance. I enjoyed it very much. On the odd occasion where I purposely looked away from stage, I’d have thought that I was listening to a well-edited audio disc. The voices and performances were wonderful. Long may you tour. I’ll be looking out for you.

Don’t miss it. Superb.


Enjoyed very much. We have seen many productions of la boheme over the years, including by ETO and ENO. This has been the best! The setting in the Paris of 1945-6 greatly added to the sense of the story. The singing was superb and the stage sets worked really well. It felt an intimate performance. Thank you.

Enjoyed very much, a great performance!

Enjoyed very much. We live both in Shrewsbury and Swansea and were interested in the link. The pre-show talk was excellent and enhanced our enjoyment of the opera.


Loved the singing and the production of La Boheme at the Taliesin theatre, Swansea, last Friday

Enjoyed very much, but found orchestra too loud in places – difficult to make out words as a result.

I enjoyed the emotive performances and thought it was well done with good quality performances. Importantly for me as I am 17, it is more affordable than the big opera companies’ shows. Also seats at Taliesin are comfortable and  have a good view.


Saw this company for the first time in Pwllheli last night. Being opera lovers, who travel Europe to see different different companies we found this performance truly outstanding and on a par with the best. From the beautiful voices of ALL the principle singers, to the intimate stage set and the comedy elements, there was nothing to fault. Please keep returning to small towns.

Enjoyed very much. EXCELLENT!

Milford Haven

Absolutely delighted with the performance. It was truly excellent. Was a little reluctant to see La Bohème again, but changed my mind very quickly upon watching the show, I enjoyed the economy of the staging and acting and as for the singing it was a real pleasure to hear. A truly excellent performance for which I would like to thank you and Brendan. Hope to see you soon.

The evening was a huge success with the theatre being almost full. The performance was lovely, we both enjoyed it hugely and the audience reaction was very enthusiastic. Your sopranos and the tenor all have such beautiful voices and we thought that the setting in WW11 occupied Paris worked very well. Fantastic!

We really enjoyed your production. All the singers were excellent and the 1940s setting was a good idea that was not a gimmick and worked well. There were six of us in our party that went to La Boheme at the Torch, Milford Haven, five had seen the opera many times before. In the car afterwards we all agreed it was one of the best productions of the opera we had ever seen. Given the choice between seeing the opera in one of the big opera houses with stars and full orchestra or in a small theatre, close up with a chamber orchestra and well balanced cast of good singers, I would always choose the small scale intimate productions. In the small theatre settings the music sounds more vibrant and the voices less remote, making the music and viewing much more alive and expressive.

La Boheme in Milford Haven was fabulous. There was a real intimate feel to this production in The Torch which brought me much closer to these young bohemians than I have felt in previous productions in large London theatres. Congratulations on a lovely production – I am not a huge fan of Boheme but this was great !


Great performance of La Boheme last night at Roses Theatre Tewkesbury. Enjoyed the fact that the orchestra was visible and a good balance between orchestra and singers. Refreshing that the conductor appeared to be a coordinator enabling the performers to make music without too much ego! Not having an orchestral pit made the whole performance more friendly and accessible. I enjoyed it much more than most grand opera performances. Terrific!

My 13yr old autistic grandson has always expressed a wish to experience opera. This was it! A very successful evening for us both. At 64 I have only recently developed an interest mainly due to live screenings. Please can there be more opportunities like this. Thank you.

I liked the small orchestra that we could see and not hidden in the pit. Good conductor without ego. Good interaction between players and singers helped by having no orchestral pit. Enjoyed the singing.

Enjoyed very much. Evocative set, words, costumes. Very fine singing, no weak links. Acting was excellent: vulnerability of Rodolfo and Mimi was particularly touching; Andrew Dickinson especially was the antithesis of the handsome, self-assured Italian who often gets the part. Orchestra was also very fine.

Enjoyed very much. Like the live orchestra, the words in English. Enjoy the performances, enjoy Roses theatre!


Having moved here from London 5 years ago there is a definite lack of opera, so seeing your production, which was very cleverly put together considering the limitations of a small company, has you definitely punching above your weight!


Enjoyed La Boheme at the Wilde Theatre 29th May. Very talented cast. The setting in 1944 Paris worked well. Storyline and characters readily accessible as ‘real’ people and circumstances, with humour and pathos.
Attended as daughter was performing in chorus (Yateley Choral Society). I think involving local choirs/choral societies in this way is terrific.

Great performance last night, (29/05/16), the last of the tour, in the Wilde theatre at South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell. Truly affecting last act, heightened by the contrasting up-tick in the ‘buffoonery’ of the previous acts, very still, very emotional and beautifully sung. Please come again, soon.

I just watched your performance at South Hill Park it was wonderful. I have never felt this way about an opera before . I was completely immersed in watching the performances. Everything about La boheme is stunning . Beautiful singing and performances, clever staging and direction, enchanting music. It was amazing to see such a diverse range of talent on one stage . Thank you for a fab evening.

Excellent singing by all the principals. Very good accompanying orchestra. Please come back to Bracknell.

I enjoyed the 1940’s interpretation of the story very much. It was a very polished performance by all who took part and I hope you will return to Bracknell in the future. Thank you!

Excellent production. Best of many I’ve seen: singing, acting, orchestra, set, everything. Congratulations to everyone involved. We came because we have enjoyed your previous performances.






  • What a treat to have such a high standard of opera come to Bury St Edmunds. We’d never heard of Swansea City Opera, so had no idea what to expect, but the performances were excellent. Hearing the score played on a slimmed down orchestra was interesting – it’s so good to be reminded that opera can be just as powerful and immediate with a tiny budget, stage, orchestra and chorus, as in the biggest, plushest opera houses. The theatre was sold out and I’m not surprised – we will definitely come back for your next visit.

    Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds
  • Marvellous La Boheme at Abergavenny last night (Sat 23 April). I have seen quite a few productions by European companies, and can honestly says this was the finest. The set, casting, singing, pace and quality of musicianship were all outstanding. I felt it was truly authentic. Thank you everyone for a wonderful, moving and powerful evening. It’s impact is still resonating.

    Borough Theatre, Abergavenny
  • Enjoyed very much. We have seen many productions of la boheme over the years, including by ETO and ENO. This has been the best! The setting in the Paris of 1945-6 greatly added to the sense of the story. The singing was superb and the stage sets worked really well. It felt an intimate performance. Thank you.

    Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury