the magnetism of Bampton Classical Opera...

The Oxford Times, July 2006

La capricciosa corretta is hardly a name that trips off the tongue. And Martín y Soler is not, I suspect, a composer whose works feature in many music-lovers' CD collections. Yet such is the magnetism of Bampton Classical Opera that the Deanery garden was full last weekend with eager opera-goers, enjoying a fun-filled piece that fitted perfectly into this idyllic setting.

The title translates as The Taming of the Shrew – the 'shrew' in this instance being Ciprigna, second wife of a wealthy merchant Bonario. Poor Bonario is driven to distraction by his wife's vanity, spitefulness and erratic behaviour. His daughter and son from his first marriage, and his two faithful servants, have reached the end of their tether, and threaten to leave. Bonario manages to forestall them by promising to assert some measure of control over his wife. But he fails miserably, pandemonium ensues, and it is left to the servants, Fiuta and Cilia, to sort out the mess. Eventually, of course, all is put right; Ciprigna admits the error of her ways and promises to be a dutiful wife, and the opera ends with general rejoicing.

This 18th-century operatic romp has been given a fresh, raunchy feel by Robert Thicknesse's witty new translation. Some of the unsubtle visual innuendo may not sit well with Bampton audiences, but otherwise director Jeremy Gray has masterminded another triumph, with some slick staging and a cast that performs with style and panache.

Adrian Powter is full of voice and suitably pathetic as the brow-beaten husband, who, strangely, really seems to adore his unlovable wife. John Lofthouse nearly steals the show with his comic portrayal of Fiuta, the servant who engineers Ciprigna's downfall. But it is Kim Sheehan, as Ciprigna, who gives the star performance – by turns sexy, tetchy, scheming and vain, and vocally strong throughout.

Nicola Lisle, The Oxford Times