Upbeat: Coda

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You can try too hard. With his eye on scoring a big success in Paris, Donizetti would never stop fiddling with his 49th opera, The Siege of Calais . . . and eventually went a fiddle too far with the troublesome third act. Result - Paris had to go hang and no producer after 1840 would touch it, despite the fact that many insist The Siege contains much of the composer's finest music. Recent productions at Bergamo and Wexford, apparently the first since 1840, have maintained the fiddling tradition, but now the Guildhall School has decided there's only one thing for it - to go back to Donizetti's first thoughts in presenting the opera's UK premiere (3, 5, 8, 10 March, Guildhall School Theatre) - including the barnstorming Act 3 ballet scene, courtesy of members of the London Contemporary Dance School. 'Very moving and powerful' is the verdict on the piece from conductor Clive Timms, Head of Opera Studies at the Guildhall. 'There's plenty of spectacle - the lower costs involved in not having to pay professionals makes that easier. To get two massive bands on stage you tell students to come along and they just do it.'