PREVIEW: La Boheme, Sunderland Empire

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A WALL of fire brings operas Aida and La Boheme to life in award-winning opera producer Ellen Kent’s new tour.

Pyrotechnic displays and lighting effects help bring Ellen’s love of large scale productions to the local stage, complete with scenery depicting the splendour and mystery of ancient Egypt.

The celebrated Chisinau National Opera and Philharmonic Orchestra, with international guest soloists, visit Sunderland next week.

Ellen’s production of Aida includes temple dancers, cages of exotic birds and parrots, ballet sequences, pillared sets with intricate tomb paintings, Bedouin dancers, a bathing scene and the ceremonial march with a pyrotechnic display where a wall of fire extends across the stage in a massive burst of flames.

About 40 dancers, children and adults from Sunderland stage schools join the 80-strong cast as slaves and soldiers on stage.

The tale focuses on Ethiopian princess Aida, who is captured and brought into slavery in Egypt.

Meanwhile, La Boheme, based on Henri Murger’s novel Scenes de la vie de boheme, focuses on the love between seamstress Mimi and poet Rodolfo. After falling in love instantly, Rodolfo later leaves Mimi due to her flirtatious behaviour, although he wracked by guilt since their life together has probably worsened Mimi’s delicate constitution. In true tragic opera fashion, the pair reunite briefly at the end before Mimi dies.

The tour features celebrated international soloists sopranos Elena Dee and Ecaterina Danu, and tenors Sorin Lupu and Nicolae Busuioc.

•Tickets priced £12.90 to £38.90 are available from the box office, tel. 0844 871 3022, or book online at www.sunderlandempire.org.uk.