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Catherine May, our soprano soloist, has had roles in productions for English National

Opera, Mid-Wales Opera, Scottish Opera, English Touring Opera, Garsington Opera, Diva

Opera , the Aldeburgh Festival and British Youth Opera.

She will be singing arias on the theme of love from the operas: Carmen, Les Conte’s

d’Hoffmann and Roméo et Juliette. In Bizet’s very popular opera Carmen, Micaela is in

love with Don José but has a rival, Carmen. In Act II of the opera, Micaela anxiously

arrives in the mountains where Don José is living with smugglers. She encourages

herself not to be afraid (Je dis de rien m’épouvante). We move to the world of fantasy

in Offenbach’s opera, Les Contes d’Hoffmann. Hoffmann is challenged to tell three great

love stories, one of which involves a wind-up doll. Continuing a wish to live a dream,

Juliet sings, in the Waltz Aria from Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, that when others speak of marriage, she wishes to live where it is eternally spring.

The theme of love in Après un Rêve by Fauré, describes a dream of a flight of two lovers.

Sadly, the dreamer is brought back to reality as dawn breaks. We then move to a stately

court dance for couples, the graceful Pavane, that Fauré wrote a few years after

composing ‘Après un Rêve’.

In complete contrast to the Pavane, Saint-Saëns's sinister Danse Macabre depicts

skeletons dancing! It is based on the French legend that Death packs a fiddle and plays at

midnight on Halloween, causing the skeletons in the cemetery to crawl out of the ground for their annual graveyard dance party. Listen out for the xylophone depicting the skeletons dancing.

Our concert finishes on a much more tranquil note with Bizet’s Symphony in C, written

when Bizet was only 17 years old. The qualities of melodiousness, elegance and charm in

this Symphony have been compared with the qualities found in the early works of

Mozart and Mendelssohn. Although it was composed in 1855, the Symphony remained

unperformed until the manuscript was discovered in 1933.

Saturday, 26th March 2022: Music from France

Camille Saint Saëns: Dance Macabre

Georges Bizet: Je dis de rein m’épouvante(Carmen)

Jacques Offenbach: ‘Les oiseaux dans la charmille - The Doll Aria (Les Contes d’Hoffman)

Charles Gounod: ‘Je veux vivre - Juliet’s Waltz Aria (Roméo et Juliette)

Gabriel Fauré: Apres un Rêve

Soloist: Catherine May

Gabriel Fauré: Pavane

George Bizet: Symphony in C

Tickets are £15.  Under 25s free.

Tickets may be purchased at the door or reserved  in advance by either ‘phoning 01206 271128 or emailing