IT’S something of a challenge: making a Victorian hall look like an opera house, designed to appear as a 1940s church in Rome.
But it is a challenge that Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra has gladly undertaken in order to stage the opera Tosca in Huddersfield Town Hall tonight.
Volunteers have been striving to turn the main auditorium into an opera house similar to Covent Garden, with a set reminiscent of 1940s Rome.
Orchestra secretary Chris Woodhead, said the challenge was all the more unique because Tosca will run for one night only.
“We’re staging our second opera at Huddersfield Town Hall and while people will recognise the concert platform we’ve got to turn a Victorian theatre into an opera house,” Chris said.
“It’s certainly been a challenge. We’ve had set designers working on it for weeks and volunteers have been building the set since yesterday and it’ll all come down after tonight’s performance.”
The idea to stage Puccini’s classic came from director Keith Cheetham and conductor Benjamin Ellis.
Keith’s vision was drawn up and over the last six weeks the set has been built – thanks to wood donations from Shaw Timber of Slaithwaite.
An army of volunteers has been building the set.
Chris added: “It has been a challenge but a great one. Tosca has such fantastic music and I think it was the chance to perform that which makes it all worthwhile. The audience will notice the changes and we’re doing it a little differently to a usual opera house performance.
“Usually the orchestra are in the pit, but we’ll be sharing the stage with the performers.”
Leading singers Sarah Helsby-Hughes and Nicholas Sales from Focus Opera, are partners in real life and tonight will be the first time they’ve appeared together.
Nick, who began his career as a surveyor, had performed with amateur groups until he got his lucky break in 2001 and turned professional. Sarah always wanted to be an actress and came up through the Birmingham Conservatoire.
Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra will be conducted by Benjamin Ellin.
Tosca is a tale of love, envy, deception and political corruption and Benjamin has described it as being one of the “most gripping and charged of all operatic scores”.
See Tosca at Huddersfield Town Hall tonight, Saturday at 7.15pm with a pre concert talk for ticket holders at 6.15pm. Tickets are available from the Library and Kirklees box offices on 01484 223200 £13-£18, concessions from £10.