The second of Ellen Kent's trio of top operas played to an appreciative audience last night (Tuesday) with the superb set dominating a sumptuous yet tragic story in La Traviata at Windsor's Theatre Royal, writes Paul Thomas.

Featuring one of the most iconic, romantic and tragic scores of all time, Verdi’s masterpiece contrasts spectacular party scenes with tender, intimate moments.

La Traviata tells the story of the tragic love between the courtesan Violetta and the romantic Alfredo Germont.

Played out against the hypocrisy of upper-class fashionable society, Alfredo and Violetta’s love threatens to shame his family.

When his father directly appeals to Violetta to relinquish her one chance of happiness, Violetta submits and her act of self-sacrifice leads to her paying the ultimate price.

The celebrated Korean soprano Maria HeeJung exceeded her credentials as a rising star of the art form with a faultless portrayal as Violetta.

Germont was his usual brackish self, but Iurie Gisca as Germont's father was the stand-out singer in this lavish production it seems only Kent can conjure.

Madam Butterfly is the feature opera tonight (Wednesday) which can only be described as mesmerising.

Tomorrow Thursday there is the real treat of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, running till Saturday..

The producers who delighted audiences here with Travels with my Aunt in 2015 and Our Man in Havana in 2016 are back with Dickens’ timeless classic in a powerful new stage adaptation.

Following a terrifying encounter with an escaped convict, young Pip is given an unexpected chance to better himself by visiting the reclusive and mysterious Miss Havisham. In the decaying grandeur of her house, Pip falls in love with Estella and helped by an anonymous benefactor, he moves to the bustling city to pursue his dream of winning Estella’s heart and of becoming part of the educated elite.

Peopled by some of Dickens’ most colourful and memorable characters and painted in rich, vivid colours across a vast landscape of people and locations, this stunning new version promises a powerful and theatrical telling of Dickens’ universally loved masterpiece.

Olivier Award-winning actress, Nichola McAuliffe, leads the cast as the iconic Miss Havisham. Nichola is best known for her role in the long running TV series, Surgical Spirit, the films Tomorrow Never Dies and Chéri and her many stage appearances including Kiss Me Kate for the RSC, The Night of the Iguana in the West End & Alan Bennett’s The Lady in the Van.

And Dickens' The Signalman is on from next Monday for three days.

Who is the faceless figure by the tunnel warning the haunted signalman?

In this eerie version of Dickens’ classic Victorian ghost story, a terrified signalman unburdens himself to the young student who chances upon his railway cutting. He tells a chilling tale of the spectre that haunts him, and the terrible disasters that follow each appearance...but what horror is the ghost trying to warn of this time? And is the young man’s visit quite so innocent as it at first appears?

Ditch the tellybox and get on down to this sumptuous feast of entertainment at the 'Royal'.

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