Festival doubles up Mozart

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Pianist and conductor Alisdair Kitchen

Conductor/director Alisdair Kitchen is back in Rye for the fifth time, and with his fourth opera, for the Rye Arts Festival, September 11-27, whose full programme will be announced this Sunday. He has been working in Rye Studio School on the opera this past week. Last year he staged “La Traviata” for one night, and this year there will be two fully staged performances of Mozart’s masterpiece, “Don Giovanni” on Saturday September 12 at 6pm in the Milligan Theatre and again on Saturday September 26.

The title role will be sung by baritone Nicholas Morton and Rannveig Karadottir (who sang last year) returns as Donna Anna. Soprano Gemma Summerfield also features and she recently won first prize in the prestigious Kathleen Ferrier competition.

Alisdair has been working again with students from Rye Studio School this week on many aspects of the production. He was in town in February, doing an extract from “La Boheme” in order to find able and likely volunteers to help with costumes, directing, preparing the set (a 1920s train) and acting as extras.

He chose Don Giovanni because “it is one of my favourite pieces, and I also needed to consider what would fit the hall as I don’t want to overwhelm the audience”. Last year’s “La Traviata” was his first stab at directing as well as conducting and he is now doing more of that in London while contemplating doing a doctorate. His master’s degree was at the Royal College of Music.

“Piano pays the bills though” he said, and he comes from a musical family with “dad playing the drums and Mum the clarinet”. However his latest skill is DIY, as he has been putting together the set for the opera.

Rye News will feature more stories from the Festival over coming weeks and particularly the Studio School’s role in collaborating with him. Other highlights of the Festival on the music side include Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt (Tuesday  September 15), the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble (September 20) and a return visit by vocal ensemble Stile Antico (September 22). For more details visit www.ryeartsfestival.co.uk.