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La Belle Helene


A video of photographs from the show can be seen by clicking here. Return to this page by clicking the back button on your browser. Details of the photographer who took all the images featured can be found here. All the stills and many more taken at the same time can be ordered.

It is not often that an opera has its World Premier in Ealing but we performed a new version of La Belle Helene by Jacques Offenbach at the Questors Theatre in November 2013.

This riotous romp through ancient Greece was written by the German-born composer in French and was given an up-to-date translation in English by Fraser Grant, our long-time professional director.

One member of the audience said: "We went to see the show last night. What an amazing production - an excellent night out. The lyrics were outrageously funny! Well done to the cast, the orchestra and the producers. A big thank you to you all."

Another commented: "I haven't laughed so much in a long time. The enthusiasm and professionalism of the cast were obvious, and I just hoped they all enjoyed doing it as much as we enjoyed watching."

We have been doing Gilbert and Sullivan operettas in Ealing for more than 60 years but took one of our occasional breaks when we present works by other composers.“It was a completely new version – a transformation – of the comic La Belle Helene, which is very funny and has brilliant music,” says Grant. "it was a bit like Carry On Up The Acropolis".

Unusually for the Julian, the lead roles - of Paris and Helen - were taken by two professional opera singers with worldwide experience.

James Heath, who has worked with the Royal Opera House and English National Opera among many others was Paris and Fiona Oliver-Smith, the founder of  Garden Opera and Oyster Opera, played Helene.

“Gilbert and Sullivan premiered The Pirates of Penzance in Paignton. Alan Ayckbourn tries out all his play in Yorkshire. Well, we premiered our new work in Ealing prior to an expected move to the West End,” joked Edwin Owen, the Julian’s chairman.

“Seriously though, the music of Offenbach was a challenge for any amateur company but one we took head on because we were using the full professional score. But La Belle Helene was very accessible and enjoyable for any audience," said Owen.

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