David Tall : Life

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THE LEAMINGTON SPA OPERA GROUP (1969-1976, 1987-1989)

Shortly after arriving in Kenilworth in September 1969, I responded to an advert in the local paper for a Musical Director for the Leamington Spa Opera Group and was offered the position to conduct the next production: Smetana’s Bartered Bride.

Being Musical Director of an Opera Group was a completely new experience. We took part in fund raising, dressed as tramps (see below), and there were concert-parties to organise to entertain, to raise our public profile and to raise a little more in funds. On one occasion I turned up to find our tenor solo was absent and learnt to be a soloist very quickly!

The Bartered Bride itself was given in May in the old Jephson Gardens Pavilion, now pulled down. It could only be used in the summer and when it rained, the tin-roof rattled. However, the weather was good for us, although the audiences did not materialise and we lost money. Our performance was notable for good singing, some fine dancing and a splendid orchestra (as much due to the quality of the selection of the orchestra by the local ‘fixer’, Brian Brown, as to the conductor),

I continued with the Spa Opera Group for a further five years, conducting the Mikado, Fiddler on the Roof, Die Fledermaus (for the second time), La Belle Helene, the Gondoliers, and instituting a regular series of Opera concerts, including oddities like The Zoo, by Sullivan, and excerpts from grand opera such as Cavallieri Rusticana, Madame Butterfly, and Aida. I also wrote an increasing number of popular choral arrangements, Negro Spirituals, Show Tunes, transcriptions of Bach, the Beatles, and so on. I will write more about these soon!

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