Peter Cowdre/s one-act opera, The Lovely Ladies, had its world premiere at Christie's prestigious auction house in London on May 12, produced by the newly-founded company Opera Unlimited. Based on the wine diaries of Michael Broadbent, the outspoken and charismatic wine critic, the evening sparkled and fizzed like the finest champagne.
Set the night before an auction, the wines stored in Christie's warehouse are fretting over a rumour that their champion Broadbent has given up the wine trade and vie amongst themselves as to which of them would be the most effective in luring him back to business.
Leading the proceedings was Australian soprano Anita Watson, a former member of the excellent Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House, who excelled as a capable Alsace and sang exquisitely in duet with tenor James Edwards (also a previous member of the ROH's Young Artists Programme), his velvety tenor a match for his noble grape Mas de Daumas Gassac.
With a rich resonance to his baritone, Toby Stafford-Allen was pure bubbles and charm as girl-mad champagne. ENO stalwart Richard Suart delivered his peerless talents to Bordeaux and soprano Constance Novis sang the fading beauty Chateau d'Yquem with hilarious insouciance. …