A NEW production coming to Wantage promises to be an enjoyable introduction to opera for those unfamiliar with the genre.

The Merry Opera Company will be performing Puccini’s La Bohéme in a new English translation at The Beacon on Saturday, March 12.

La Bohéme, one of the greatest romances in opera, is a captivating tale of the comedy of everyday life.

A chance meeting leads to a joyful, passionate and ultimately desperate love affair. The carefree exuberance of four young, penniless,students, matures into moments of jealousy and anger and finally shock at the premature death of Rodolfo’s first love, the beautiful Mimi.

The visit of The Merry Opera Company to The Beacon has been organised by Opera Unmasked, a project that aims to encourage enjoyment and understanding of opera, Theatre, ballet and other performing arts in the Vale of White Horse area.

This project has been initiated by Jim Mitchell, founder and creator of the Wantage (not just) Betjeman Literary Festival.

The Merry Opera Company will be performing in Wantage as part of a tour in southern England, with other venues including Kenton Theatre, Henley, on Saturday, February 27, and The Theatre, Chipping Norton, on Wednesday, March 2.

The company's aims is to stage shows that offer an understandable, interesting and enjoyable introduction to opera, which is often perceived as difficult to get into.

Director Christopher Cowell created this translation especially for Merry Opera. His international career has taken him to the USA, Denmark, Portugal and France and he has

directed his own adaptations for Covent Garden and Glyndebourne.

La Bohéme will be staged at The Beacon, Wantage, at 7.30pm on Sunday, March 12. Tickets are £15 from 01235 763456 or www.beaconwantage.co.uk