OperaUpClose has become a resident company at MAST Mayflower Studios in Southampton, Hampshire. The city on England’s south coast will now be the innovative opera company’s base from which it will produce operas touring to theatres, site-specific venues from castles to warehouses, and schools across the UK.
The company first visited Southampton in 2017 with its modern-day reimagining of Mozart’s The Magic Flute (1791). It returned in 2019 with Artistic Director Robin Norton-Hale’s Olivier Award-winning new production of La bohème (The Bohemians, Puccini, 1896). In March 2020 a new version of the same composer’s Madama Butterfly (1904) was performed in the city just a week before the pandemic put a stop to live performance.
The company’s new home will enable it to collaborate with the team at MAST Mayflower Studios, as well as other resident partners, providing opportunities for local audiences to experience high-quality opera. OperaUpClose will also work with Southampton Music Hub and Southampton University to offer creative participation programmes for young people across the south-west.
OperaUpClose is an Olivier Award-winning opera company which aims to produce innovative, unintimidating, affordable and high-quality English chamber re-imaginings of well-known works, as well as premieres of new operas. It tours to venues across the UK.
“We’re thrilled to join MAST right at the beginning of what we know will be a really exciting journey and to have the opportunity to work closely with other organisations and the community in Southampton,” Robin Norton-Hale commented.
“We know from our early days producing out of offices in pub theatres the exciting ideas, and the connection with audiences, which develop from being in the same building where performances take place, and that is something we have missed as a touring company. This partnership means OperaUpClose can combine performing all over the country with being truly rooted in a place and community.”
OperaUpClose will continue to tour to venues across the UK, reaching up to 15,000 live audience members each year. Following a grant from the second round of the Culture Recovery Fund, the company will be able to use MAST as its new base from which to develop, rehearse and premiere new productions. In 2022, it plans to open a tour of Donizetti’s Mary, Queen of Scots and an ambitious new production of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman in Southampton.
MAST Mayflower Studios is a multi-artform cultural hub presenting and producing theatre, dance, musicals, music, comedy, circus, cabaret, spoken word, visual arts and family shows. It supports artists living or making work in, or with a connection to, Southampton and Hampshire.
This community-led enterprise works with a variety of touring companies and local artists to present a diverse, vibrant, high-quality artistic programme, alongside its own MAST productions and co-productions.
Sara Scott, executive director of MAST Mayflower Studios, said: “We are delighted to welcome OperaUpClose and other cultural organisations into MAST to be resident in the venue, providing a vital creative hub for the city. We are committed to offering opportunities for local theatre makers to develop and explore their craft, telling local stories for our community.”
OperaUpClose has become a resident opera company at Southampton’s MAST Mayfair Studios.