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With one of Puccini’s greatest masterpieces, Clonter presents the history of a love affair, from the first tentative encounter to its devastating end. As a young poet and dress-maker fall for each other, romantic idealism is confronted by the reality of poverty, and the lives of a small group of friends are transformed forever.

Production set in the mid-20th Century and sung in Italian with English surtitles, and orchestra.



Rodolfo – Bechara Moufarrej

Born in Lebanon Bechara Moufarrej is one of the few singers to pursue an operatic career outside the country. Following his Masters degree in Music he undertook further study in Italy and at the National Opera Studio in London. Bechara has collaborated with the Lebanese Orchestra, the Filarmonica Romana and the Orchestra Giovanile Italiana with at opera houses and festivals in Qatar, Dubai, Canada, Italy. He has sung Don Jose Carmen at the Cirque d’Hiver in Paris, Rodolfo La Boheme with the Qatar Philharmonic/ Mark Shanahan as well as Ferrando Cosi fan tutte and Conte d’Almaviva Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the Al Bustan Festival as well as at the Teatro Giulio di Lucca, Teatro Goldoni, Livorno, Teatro Verdi in Pisa and Teatro Coccia in Novara. His recording of Nessun Dorma with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will soon be released on a disc of Classic FM’s Classics You Know.


Mimi –  Mirjam Mesak

Estonian soprano Mirjam Mesak was born in 1990 in Tallinn and graduated in 2006 from The Music School of Tallinn, playing the piano under the tutelage of Heli Taar. She received her Bachelors’ degree in voice from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with a First Class Honours in 2016 and is now continuing her studies on the Guildhall Artist Masters Programme, under the tutelage of Prof. Rudolf Piernay. At Guildhall, Mirjam has worked with the finest singers and coaches including Graham Johnson, Sarah Walker, Eugene Asti, Julius Drake, Stephan Loges. Mirjam has performed as a soloist in several of London’s renowned concert halls such as the Barbican Hall, Milton Court Concert Hall (including as part of the LSO’s This is Rattle festival), and Wigmore Hall. Earlier this year she was chosen as a semi-finalist in the Glyndebourne Opera Cup. For the season 2018/19, Mirjam will be a member of the Opera Studio at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. Mirjam is generously supported by the Help Musicians Fund, Estonian Students Fund in USA and the Guildhall School Trust.


Marcello – Alexey Gusev

Russian baritone Alexey Gusev graduated from the Rostov State Conservatoire with a degree in Master of Voice, Opera and Concert Singing. Subsequent recognition as an outstanding young talent led to an offer to join the Rostov State Opera and Ballet Theatre as principal baritone, a position he held for seven years, singing all major baritone roles in Rostov Theatre’s repertoire. Alexey subsequently joined the Astrakhan State Theatre of Opera & Ballet before moving to the West to take up a scholarship for an MM (Opera) degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. For his debut in Scotland Alexey made a great impact as Napoleon and Andrey Bolkonsky in Prokofiev’s War & Peace, a co-production of the RSAMD in collaboration with Scottish Opera. Richard Morrison in The Times commented: “In this show, Napoleon wins the singing prize, if not the war –a superbly mature performance by a young Russian baritone, Alexey Gusev.” Alexey is a winner of the Clonter Opera Prize 2017, winner of the Tania and Tonia Webster Prize for Russian Song, 2nd Prize in The International Rakhmaninov competition for Opera singers and Diploma in The All-Russian Opera Competition in Moscow.  Alexey is a Samling Artist.His roles include: Papageno – Die Zauberflote, Count Almaviva – Le nozze di Figaro, Robert – Iolanta (Tchaikovsky), Prince Yeletsky – The Queen of Spades, Ragiami – Die Bajadere (Kalman), Valentine – Faust, Morales – Carmen, Semka – The Country Wives Revolt (Ptichkin), Composer – Russian Roulette (A. Khevelev), Bronza – Rothchild’s Violin (Fleishman), Stenio – Maddalena (Prokofiev), Prince Andrei Bolkonsky and Napoleon – War & Peace, Grigory Stepanovitch Smirnov – The Bear (Walton), Orpheus – Les Malheurs d’Orphée ( Milhaud), Young Man – Semyon Kotko (Prokofiev)


Musetta – Erika Baikoff

Erika Baikoff began her vocal studies at LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts in New York, while privately studying with Lorraine Nubar. In recent years, she was awarded The Paul Hamburger Prize at the Guildhall School of Music and the Bouchaine Young Artist Scholarship. She has also participated in workshops with British Youth Opera, Chautauqua Institute and Songfest as a Schubert Fellow, where she was featured in masterclasses with Margo Garret, Graham Johnson, Martin Katz and Ann Murray. Ms. Baikoff received her AB from Princeton University in French studies and her MMus from the Guildhall School of Music, under the tutelage of Prof. Piernay.


Schaunard – Jolyon Loy

Born in the West Midlands, Jolyon Loy will make his debut at Wexford Festival Opera this season as Sonora in Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West, and at the Dartington International Festival as Christian Weiss in James Runcie’s The Great Passion. A Britten-Pears Young Artist, Jolyon recently sang in Aldeburgh as Valens in Handel’s Theodora, conducted by Christian Curnyn and coached/directed by Dame Sarah Connolly. Previous operatic work includes Aeneas / Dido & Aeneas; Polyphemus / Acis & Galatea; and Giove / La Calisto for Ensemble OrQuesta; Osman/Huascar / Les Indes Galantes for Benslow Music; Count Almaviva / Le nozze di Figaro with the Berlin Opera Academy, where Jolyon was a recipient of the Zenaida Nevsky Memorial Prize; Papageno / The Magic Flute for Hampstead Garden Opera; Marquis d’Obigny / La Traviata for Opera Lyrica; Thésée / Hippolyte et Aricie for Woodhouse Opera; Ronald / The Life to Come, a world premiere with music by Louis Mander and libretto by Stephen Fry for Surrey Opera; and Bobinot / The Storm, composed for Helios Collective in conjunction with ENO. www.jolyonloy.com


Colline – Connor Baiano

Connor Baiano is a Bass studying for his MA with Mark Wildman and Ingrid Surgenor at the Royal Academy of Music, and is a recipient of the Colin Murray Scholarship. As a soloist, he has sung in a variety of concerts and competitions in Manchester, London and Bath, winning multiple prizes in the Mid-Somerset Festival in 2016 and 2017, and further scholarships to study at St John’s College – Cardiff, Prior Park College – Bath, and the Royal Northern College of Music. Along with vast choral and chorus experience, including work at St David’s Hall in Cardiff, Manchester Opera House, and working with the BBC numerous times, Connor has covered the role of Sarastro at Longborough Festival Opera (2017), and performed both the roles of Truffaldin and Lakai in Berlin Opera Academy’s production of ‘Ariadne auf Naxos’ (2017).


Benoit/Alcindoro – Pedro Ometto

Brazilian bass-baritone Pedro Ometto is studying at the Alexander Gibson Opera School at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland under the tutelage of Julian Tovey. He is a grateful recipient of a scholarship from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Trust. He has performed at most of the important Brazilian venues, including the Theatro Municipal de São Paulo, Teatro Castro Alves, Palácio das Artes and the Sala São Paulo. Operatic roles include: Frank Maurrant (Street Scene), Phoebus (The Day After), The Loudspeaker (The Emperor of Atlantis), Angelotti (Tosca), Lord Chancellor (Iolanthe), Petrus (Der Mond), Mamma Agata (Viva la mamma), Lord Hate-Good (The Pilgrim’s Progress), Don Bartolo (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Plutone (Il ballo delle ingrate) and Don Fernando (Fidelio). Concert work includes: Haydn’s Nelson Mass, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Hunting Cantata, Mozart’s Requiem and Cavalieri’s Rappresentatione di Anima et di Corpo. Forthcoming roles include Father Trulove (The Rake’s Progress) with British Youth Opera in 2018.



Musical Director/CoachClive Timms studied at Birmingham University and the London Opera Centre.  He joined the music staff of ENO after a season with WNO and was subsequently appointed Assistant Music Director of Opera North on the company’s inception in 1978. For these companies he conducted a large number of performances of a varied operatic repertoire.  He retired from the Guidhall School of Music & Drama in 2012 after 22 years as Head of Opera Studies, where in 2007 he was awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for his work in the Opera Department.  He was responsible for many notable  productions, often of unusual and  stimulating repertoire, the majority of which he conducted, latterly Nicolai’s  Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor and the European première of Ned Rorem’s Our Town – and  he continues to coach aspiring singers at the Guildhall School. His association  with Clonter dates back to 1989 but more  recently he has conducted the productions of La cenerentola, Lucia di Lammermoor, Hansel and Gretel, Die Fledermaus, Faust, Così fan tutteLa traviata and Le nozze di Figaro.


Director – Harry Fehr studied philosophy at the University of Nottingham and was a member of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden.He has directed, among others, the Chinese premiere of Falstaff (Shanghai Opera House), Orlando (Welsh National Opera/Scottish Opera), L’elisir d’amore (Den Jyske Opera), AriodanteDer fliegende Holländer, Il matrimonio segreto & La cenerentola (Scottish Opera), Craig Armstrong’s The Lady from the Sea (Edinburgh International Festival/Scottish Opera), Così fan tutte (Opera Holland Park), I Capuleti e i Montecchi & La finta giardiniera (Buxton Festival) and Die schöne Müllerin, La serva padrona & Stephen McNeff’s Gentle Giant (Linbury Studio Theatre).He has directed conservatoire productions of La finta giardiniera (Royal College of Music), Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor (Guildhall School of Music and Drama), The Cunning Little Vixen & Le nozze di Figaro (Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama) and L’incoronazione di Poppea & Rinaldo (Trinity Laban).He directed Così fan tutte for Clonter in 2015, in a production which was nominated for a Manchester Theatre Award. Plans include Tosca for the Netherlands Reisopera, Radamisto for the Dutch National Opera Academy, Roberto Devereux for the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, and Orlando for San Francisco Opera.



Designer – Grace Venning is a graduate of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Recent design credits include: La bohème (Clonter Opera), Stop Giving Me Grief (From the Forest Festival), Masti Maja (Sansaar Theatre Company),  FCUK’D (Bunker Theatre), The Death of Ivan Ilyich (Attic Theatre Company, Merton Arts Space), Semele (Mid Wales Opera tour), The cosmonaut’s last message to the woman he once loved in the former Soviet Union and Road (Bute Theatre, RWCMD). Assistant credits include: Goats (Royal Court), Abandon (Lyric Hammersmith), The Importance of Being Earnest (The Original Theatre Company tour), Cinderella (Citizens Theatre), Loot (Park Theatre and Watermill Theatre), The Twelfth Player (Seven Sisters company, site specific), Wolf’s Child (WildWorks, site specific), Ar Waith, Ar Daith (Walk the Plank, site specific). Grace will commence the role of Design Studio Assistant at the National Theatre later in 2018, and has written for Blue Pages, the Society of British Theatre Designers’ journal.


Lighting Designer – Petr Vocka graduated from RADA with a Post. Grad. Diploma in Lighting Design. Recent Design credits include: Titus Andronicus, at the Rose Playhouse Bankside, Dinosaur Dreams, at the Etcetera Theatre, The Winter’s Tale, Guildford Shakespeare Company, Twelfth Night, Iphigenia in Tauris and  Othello at the Rose Playhouse   Bankside, L’enfant et les sortilèges Samling Arts at The Sage Newcastle; Uncle & Angels and Scars & cigarettes, Contemporary Dance pieces for Ballet Preljocaj, Aix-en-Provence, France; Othello (transfer from Rose) Waterloo East Theatre; Bangles, Platform Theatre, Islington; Shoot I Didn’t Mean That and The Last Days of Mankind, Tristan Bates Theatre, Covent Garden. Prior to RADA he was a professional dancer in Vienna, and danced on many stages including Landestheater Linz, Bregenz Festspiel’s famous Lakeside stage.


Assistant Music Director – Robin Humphreys is a graduate of the University of Birmingham and a holder of the prestigious Diploma in Professional Performance from the Royal Northern College of Music, where he studied piano accompaniment with David Lloyd. Appearing in concert both as a soloist and an accompanist for over 35 years, he now pursues a successful career as an accompanist and répétiteur, the breadth of his repertoire being reflected in television and radio broadcasts ranging from BBC Radio 3 to Emmerdale!  At the RNCM, Robin is a senior music coach within the School of Vocal Studies, for whom he was also chief répétiteur on the majority of college opera productions from the late 1990s until 2013. He has appeared with the    Manchester Camerata in the world première of “A Feast of Fables” by Paul Reade, has been Musical Director for Feelgood Theatre Productions and, from 1990-2000, Opera & Concert Productions (Worldwide) Ltd with whom he toured throughout the Gulf, the Indian sub-continent and the Far East. Robin has a particularly close association with Clonter Opera Theatre in Cheshire, where he regularly works as Assistant Musical Director and Accompanist. He is also an accompanist member of the British & International Federation of Festivals.


Orchestra – Clonter Sinfonia

Violin 1                                   Liz Rossi
Violin 2                                   Laura Concar
Viola                                       Amy Hark
Cello                                      Maya Kashif
Bass                                       Toby Hughes
Flute                                       Jennifer George
Oboe                                     Bethan Roberts
Clarinet                                 Sarah Masters
Bassoon                                Linton Stephens
Horn                                      Matthew Crossley
Trumpet                                Laura Wilson
Harp                                      Rhian Evans
Percussion/Timpani             Andrea Vogler



Opera Novice Night

Wed 18th July
Never been to an opera? Why not come to our Opera Novice Night for La Boheme public dress rehearsal, which includes a pre-performance talk, given by the director.

N.B. I f you have been to an opera at Clonter before, but are either unable to attend another performance, and/or are introducing an opera novice to Clonter, the ticket price will be £24.

Tickets Non-Opera Novice £24, Opera Novice £15, Students £10, Children (Under 16) £5


Doors Open & Costume Workshop 5.30pm

Director’s Talk 6.30pm

Performance Starts 7pm

Interval 30 minutes; The audience is welcome to bring a pre-performance picnic

Dress Code Smart Casual or Suits



Fri 20 July

Tickets £32, £50, £55, £60, Students £10, Children (Under 16) £8

Early Bird Ticket (20% Disc) available until 28th April

Doors Open 6pm

Director’s Talk 6.30pm

Performance Starts 7pm

Interval 70 minute supper interval*

Dress Code Optional Black Tie


Sun 22 July (Mat)

Tickets£19, £29, £34, £39, Students £10, Children (Under 16) £8

Early Bird Ticket (20% Disc) available until 28th April

Doors Open 2pm

Performance Starts 3pm

Interval 30 minute interval;

post-performance tea, avaialble to pre-order, or bring your own picnic

Dress Code Smart Casual or Suits


Tues 24 July

Tickets £24, £39, £44, £50, Students £10, Children (Under 16) £8

Early Bird Ticket (20% Disc) available until 28th April

Doors Open 6pm

Performance Starts 7.30pm

Interval 30 minute interval*

Dress Code Smart Casual or Suits


Thurs 26 July

Tickets £32, £50, £55, £60, Students £10, Children (Under 16) £8

Early Bird Ticket (20% Disc) available until 28th April

Doors Open 6pm

Performance Starts 7pm

Interval 70 minute supper interval*

Dress Code Smart Casual or Suits


Sat 28 July

Tickets £34, £60, £65, £70, Students £10, Children (Under 16) £8

Early Bird Ticket (20% Disc) available until 28th April

Doors Open 6pm

Performance Starts 7pm

Interval 70 minute supper interval*

*70 minute supper interval; pre-order supper, hamper or canapé baskets, or bring your own (indoor) picnic, or outdoors weather permitting

*30 minute interval; pre-order pre-performance supper, hamper or canapé baskets, or bring your own (indoor) picnic, or outdoors weather permitting

Dress Code Optional Black Tie

Book Now Event Menu Friday 20th July

Book Now Event Menu Sunday 22nd July (Mat)

Book Now Event Menu Tuesday 24th July

Book Now Event Menu Thursday 26th July

Book Now Event Menu Saturday 28th July