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Gala Performance From Opera Stars

Irene Rutt, 98, with great grandsons Harley and Oscar Boatswain joined by members of English National Opera, Karen Foster mezzo, Claire Pendleton, soprano, Adam Sullivan tenor, Paul Sheehan baritone and Simon Haynes piano

Members of the English National Opera brought enjoyment and happiness to an enthusiastic audience at a gala performance to raise funds for Smart Cranleigh and Cranleigh Arts Centre. More than £500 was raised for these local charitable causes.

The opera arias ranged from Italy through Russia; Handel to Gershwin; solos, duets and full ensemble. Cranleigh enjoys the regular live streams from Royal Opera House, but there is nothing quite like the atmosphere of top professional singers in full voice in an intimate auditorium. It is impossible to pick a favourite but the audience enjoyed the tenor/baritone “Duet” from Puccini’s La Boheme, the “Quartet” from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, “Ombre mai fu” from Handel’s Xerxes and “Glitter and be Gay” from Bernstein’s Candide.

The performance was full of humour and action, the singers all demonstrating both their virtuosity and their engagement with the audience. They were ably supported by Simo Haynes on piano, who also performed a solo Tchaikovsky piece.

The event was raising money partly for Smart Cranleigh whose objective is to “Connect the Community” with the signposting of local information about how we can all better enjoy the best that Cranleigh, Ewhurst and surrounding villages have to offer; both to enhance health and well-being and to improve life expectancy but also participation and enjoyment of mental and physical activity. A key to that is inter-generational embrace; realised charmingly on this evening by four generations of one Ewhurst family attending and enjoying the music.

Smart Cranleigh has recently opened its “Community Point” at Oliver House next to Cromwell Coffee House, and volunteers welcome the public Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays from 1000-1300.

There was also a surprise for Ewhurst resident Mrs Ann Barrett-Leonard from Ewhurst who received a “Happy Birthday” rendering from the opera stars to complete anther happy day.

This was an extra event to complement Cranleigh Arts Centre’s nine concert classical chamber music programme for 2019. The programme restarts on September 27 with a performance by top international pianist from Ukraine, Dinara Klinton, who is presenting Beethoven, Liszt, Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev.  

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