The intimate 400-seat theatre at Nevill Holt Opera was the recipient of three RIBA East Midlands 2019 awards. In addition to a general award and the coveted Building of the Year, it was also presented with a special prize for Conservation. The opera house opened in June 2018 with a performance of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro, 1784) marking the start of Nevill Holt’s 2018 festival.
Designed by Stirling Prize-winning architects Witherford Watson Mann and theatre designers Sound Space Vision, the striking space is housed within a 17th-century stable block on the Grade I-listed estate in Market Harborough, Leicestershire. It replaces 10 years of temporary tent structures. The character of the historic stable block remains a significant part of the theatre’s aesthetic, the auditorium at first hidden from view behind the original courtyard stone walls.
The awards were announced at a ceremony hosted by BBC East Midlands Political Editor Tony Roe at Nottingham Trent University on 9 May 2019. Colin McColl, chair of the RIBA jury commented: “This is a project that looks effortless, yet we all know that this belies the truth. The modesty, craftsmanship, care and attention that have been applied here are exceptional.”
RIBA East Midlands Award winners will be considered for a highly coveted RIBA National Award in recognition of their architectural excellence, which will be announced on 27 June. The shortlist for the RIBA Stirling Prize for the best building of the year will be drawn from the RIBA National Award-winning projects later in the year.
The opera house will again host this year’s Nevill Holt Opera festival, which opened with a new production of Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1960) directed by Anna Morrissey, under the baton of Artistic Director Nicholas Chalmers. The 2019 season will conclude with the revival of an elegant art-deco staging of Così fan tutte (Women Are Like That, 1790) – Mozart’s high-energy tale of love, temptation and partner swapping.
The 400-seat auditorium has won the prestigious Building of the Year award (Hélène Binet).