Nevill Holt Opera turns 10 this year and is set to mark the occasion with two new productions in its summer festival. The programme comprises a double-bill of Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci (Clowns, 1892) and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi (1918), and Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Cinderella, 1817). The Leicestershire-based company will also be hosting a special gala evening to celebrate a decade of opera.
The unusual pairing of Pagliacci and Gianni Schicchi is rarely performed, but the company believes the two operas complement each other perfectly.
Pagliacci is the tragic story of a travelling commedia dell’arte troupe and the characters within it. Set as a play within a play, the 19th century opera by Ruggiero Leoncavallo tells a story of dramatic love and betrayal, when the leader of the theatrical company murders his wife and her lover on stage during a performance.
Described by Nevill Holt Opera as “the perfect comedy in this unique pairing of operas”, Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi is the third part of Il trittico, a collection of three one-act operas with different stories; the other two are Il tabarro (The Cloak, 1918) and Suor Angelica (Sister Angelica, 1918). The opera is based on an episode in Dante’s Divine Comedy and follows the farcical aftermath of a family death and missing will.
The young cast will double up on their roles, playing parts in both operas. English soprano Charlie Drummond is Nedda in Pagliacci and Nella in Gianni Schicchi. Welsh/Italian tenor Adriano Graziani is Canio and Gherardo in the respective operas. Brazilian baritone Michel de Souza is Tonio/Gianni Schicchi and Russian-Ukrainian tenor Egor Zhuravskii sings Beppe/Rinuccio.
The company will again be partnering with Manchester Camerata for the production, with Nevill Holt’s artistic director Nicholas Chalmers conducting. Mathilda du Tillieul McNicol directs. Performances take place on 31 May and 1, 3 and 6 June at 5pm, with a 3pm performance on 6 June. Tickets are on sale now, costing from £130.
Also on the festival line-up is a new production of La Cenerentola. In Rossini’s comic retelling of the Cinderella story, Angelina is forced to serve in her own home to her stepfather Don Magnifico and stepsisters until everything changes with the arrival of the prince Don Ramiro in search of a wife.
London-born mezzo-soprano Grace Durham plays the role of Angelina, with Australian baritone Grant Doyle as her evil stepfather. British tenor Aaron Godfrey-Mayes sings the part of the prince.
Making his Nevill Holt debut, Dionysis Grammenos will conduct the Royal Northern Sinfonia, with Owen Horsley directing. Performances take place on 22, 24, 27 and 28 June at 5pm and 35 June at 3pm Tickets cost from £130.
Nevill Holt’s 10th anniversary fundraising gala will take place on 9 June. Celebrating the company’s education and community outreach work, the programme will feature Nevill Holt principal artists, associate artists, foundation artists, the 2023 opera children’s chorus, primary school children from The Magic Flute (Mozart, 1791) education project, and Manchester Camerata.
The programme will include famous opera arias, overtures and some audience participation. As part of the evening there will be a charity auction for Nevill Holt Opera, in aid of future projects and community work.
Gates open at 5.30pm, with the gala performance starting at 6.30pm. Tickets cost from £130.
This year Nevill Holt Opera will continue to expand its musical offerings. The Rising Star Recital takes place on 10 June. It features former Nevill Holt Opera Emerging Artist tenor Laurence Kilsby, contralto Jess Dandy and pianist Ella O’Neill. The show starts at 7pm and tickets cost from £23.
11 June sees two special events. The Sunday Sing-along with Nicholas Chalmers allows audiences to learn to perform pieces by Mozart, Rossini and Puccini, led by Nevill Holt’s artistic director. No singing experience is required and the Sing-along is suitable for all. It starts at 11.30am and tickets are pay what you can, starting from £3.
At 4pm the same day, Michael Morpurgo will present War Horse – The Concert. The author will read an abridged version of his best-selling novel, which has gone on to be a successful play as well as a Hollywood film. He will be accompanied by music and songs from the National Theatre production. Tickets cost from £15.
Further information and tickets for all productions are available from Nevill Holt Opera.
Nevill Holt Opera’s 10th anniversary festival will feature new productions of Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Rossini’s La Cenerentola.