The heat and passion of Spain comes to Accrington next month when the Lancashire Sinfonietta and Heritage Opera present Bitzet's Carmen.

Benedict Holland will lead the orchestra consisting of some of Lancashire’s best professional musicians drawn from leading orchestras across the country. Among them are brother and sister Alex Barnes (cellist) and Angela Barnes (horn) from Haslingden. A finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2002 Angela Barnes went on to become the first female horn player in the London Symphony Orchestra.  More home-grown talent on the night will include oboe player Rachael Clegg from Colne, Violinist Alexandra Stemp from Bacup and flute player Sarah Whewell from Blackburn.

The cast have performed with some the best known Opera companies in the country including the Royal Opera , Opera North and the Welsh National Opera. Don Jose will be performed by Nicholas Sales. Mark Saberton takes the role of Escamillo and Carmen is played by Serenna Wagner.

Established in 1996, the Lancashire Sinfonietta’s concert seasons are known for incorporating world-class directors, Lancastrian soloists and famous names alongside rising young talent. For the first time they are taking part in an opera. Fiona Sinclair, Lancashire Sinfonietta’s General Manager, explains:

 “The world of opera is a place where live music is at its most dramatic. It reaches out to audiences by involving them an emotional rollercoaster of a story, something that music does better than any other artform. For the orchestra this is a great challenge and pleasure to be part of a staged production with such an experienced touring company. We hope it will lead to more operatic excursions between Heritage Opera and the Lancashire Sinfonietta in the future, taking worldclass opera to local Lancashire audiences”.

Lancashire Sinfonietta’s members, originally from Lancashire, are drawn from orchestras such as BBC Philharmonic, the Hallé, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Academy of Ancient Music, Orchestra Revolutionnaire et Romantique, Manchester Camerata and the European Union Chamber Orchestra. These home-grown musical champions return to the Sinfonietta to entertain, educate and inspire the next generation of talent. The orchestra is supported by Lancashire County Council.  

Heritage Opera is a professional opera company based in the North West that performs in theatres, historic buildings and stately homes across Lancashire, Cheshire and Yorkshire.  Their programme consists of three or four fully staged and costumed operas per year in addition to concerts, education workshops and other events.

Carmen is at Accrington Town Hall on 5 November.