Opera Holland Park (OHP) is set to present Opera in Song, a short series of recitals that comprises three programmes with a focus on storytelling, the west London-based company has announced. Taking place from 25-27 July, the series aims to “close the traditional gap between opera and song,” the company said in a statement.

The three concerts feature a mixed programme of Czech, English, Italian, Russian, German, French and Spanish music curated by award-winning New Zealand baritone Julien Van Mellaerts in collaboration with pianist Dylan Perez. Performers include mezzo-soprano Fleur Barron, tenor Nicky Spence and sopranos Anush Hovhannisyan and Nardus Williams, along with pianists Ella O’Neill, Simon Lepper and Dylan Perez. Three of the 2021 OHP Young Artists, Charlotte Badham, Charlotte Bowden and Isabelle Peters, will also feature.

The first recital, on 25 July, features Nicky Spence and Dylan Perez performing Janáček’s passionate 1920 song-cycle The Diary of One Who Disappeared, the first of a sequence of works inspired by the composer’s infatuation with Kamila Stösslova. The programme also includes the composer’s Moravian Folk Songs and Dvorák’s Gypsy Songs.

Spence and Perez will be joined on stage by Fleur Barron as the gypsy and OHP Young Artists Charlotte Badham, Charlotte Bowden and Isabelle Peters as the nymphs.

Anush Hovhannisyan explores the music of Verdi’s and Tchaikovsky’s most-loved heroines in Violetta and Tatyana (26 July). La traviata (1853) and Eugene Onegin (1879) are two of the greatest operatic studies of heartbreak, and the recital is designed to identify the points of contact and difference between these two great soprano roles.

Pianists Dylan Perez and Ella O’Neill present new four-hand transcriptions of some of the finest orchestral movements from the operas, while Van Mellaerts joins Hovhannisyan on stage for the fateful encounter between Onegin and Tatyana. The programme is complemented by a selection of Armenian folk songs.

The final recital, The Marriage of Figaro, retells the story of Count and Countess Almaviva’s marriage through an imaginative programme of songs and duets by Brahms, Mahler, Duparc, Gounod, Vaughan Williams, Obradors and Toldrá.

Julien Van Mellaerts is joined by pianist Simon Lepper and singer Nardus Williams to trace the Almavivas’ relationship from secret courtship to the public betrayal in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (1786).

The series is inspired by OHP’s summer season, which features productions of The Marriage of Figaro, The Cunning Little Vixen (Janáček, 1924) and La traviata, as well as a postponed 2020 production of Eugene Onegin, in which Hovannisyan and Spence were due to sing the roles of Tatyana and Lensky respectively. Figaro stars Julien Van Mellaerts as Count Almaviva.

The concerts will all take place in OHP’s newly designed 400-seat auditorium in Kensington, west London. Created in collaboration with theatre designer takis, the open-air theatre has been built from sustainable materials and specially designed to provide safe social distancing and greater accessibility.

Tickets are available now and cost from £20-£50, with a 20% off subscription price for customers purchasing for all three recitals. Those aged under 30 can register for £10 tickets. See OHP’s website for further details, including show times and how to take park in the Under 30s Scheme.

The series is supported by the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation, The Sickle Foundation, a syndicate of private donors and Steinway Pianos.



Curated by baritone Julien Van Mellaerts in collaboration with pianist Dylan Perez, Opera in Song is a short series of recitals that comprises a mixed programme of Czech, English, Italian, Russian, German, French and Spanish music.