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Cruel cut to a colourful high life.

Byline: By KAREN PRICE Western Mail

An evening of opera and comedy with actress and virtuosic mezzo-soprano Buddug Verona James takes place in Cardigan this week. And the show at Theatr Mwldan in Cardigan will be her 50th performance of Castradiva, the story of an 18th century castrato.

Buddug Verona James was born and bred in Cardigan and is one of three daughters of the local butcher.

It was fate that brought her to the stage - she might have been making sausages were it not for her quest to sing.

She studied with Maestro d'Angelo in Rome, the National Opera Studio and Guildhall in London.

She has performed all over the world, including America, Canada, Japan and the Far East, notably with Opera Theatre Company, Opera Atelier, Cleveland Opera, Almeida Opera and Netherlands Opera.

Castradiva tells the story of the phenomenon of the castrati. Splendidly attired as a Roman dandy, Buddug plays all the roles in this story of an 18th century castrato. She is the celebrated castrato himself, the up-and-coming castrato, the lovelorn tenor, the bawdy Contessa, the priapic Pope and his scurrilous servant.

Her only props are three masks, a trio of feathers and a silk wrap. Yet each character comes to life before your eyes. She is in turn a braggadocio, tender, sentimental and downright raunchy.

The time is 1700, the place Rome and the Pope has banned women from performing in public. Young boys are sold to the church and castrated to keep their high voices.

Consequently, castrati performed the female as well as the male roles. They were adored like pop stars and discovered the perfect disguise for visiting a lady's boudoir. Cross-dressing and bed-hopping became the order of the day.

Castradiva weaves a tale of the amazing lives of the castrati around some of the finest arias Handel and Gluck wrote for them. Seven arias and seven scenes tell the story populated by six colourful characters.

Buddug will be accompanied by three specialists in baroque music, Andrew Wilson-Dickson (harpsichord), Lucy Robinson (viola da gamba) and Simon Jones (baroque violin).

Castradiva is at Theatr Mwldan, Cardigan, September 8, at 7.30pm. To book tickets, contact the box office on 01239 621200
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 4, 2006
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