Happy New Year! 2018 is an especially exciting year for all at Bampton Classical Opera, as we celebrate our 25th anniversary season.  When we tentatively put on what was meant to be a one-off of Handel’s Acis and Galatea back in 1991 we never for one moment thought we’d still be here, a quarter of a century later.  Gulp!

Looking ahead

Let’s start with our 25th anniversary.  Our first event is on Wednesday 7 March 2018 with Songs for Nancy, a concert at St John’s Smith Square in commemoration of the bicentenary of the Anglo-Italian soprano Nancy Storace, one of the most renowned singers of her time and for whom Mozart created the role of Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro.  Sopranos Jacquelyn Stuker, a Jette Parker Young Artist at the Royal Opera, and Rhiannon Llewelyn, who sang the role of the Countess in our 2017 production of Salieri’s School of Jealousy, are joined by the outstanding CHROMA ensemble and conductor Andrew Griffiths for an intriguing and varied concert of music by composers including Mozart, Haydn, Salieri, Stephen Storace and Martín y Soler.

Tickets are £38, £28 and £18 and are available from the Box Office at St John’s Smith Square (020 7222 1061 or  Please do join us for this launch concert of our anniversary season and help us celebrate in style!

Our main production this summer, in our usual venues of Bampton Deanery garden (20 & 21 July), Westonbirt Orangery (27 August) and St John’s Smith Square (18 September) will be what we believe is the UK première of the Maltese-French composer Nicolas Isouard’s Cinderella of 1810, also marking the bicentenary of the composer’s death.  Hugely popular in its day, it was knocked off its perch when Rossini borrowed the plot for La Cenerentola but it is a rarity well worth rediscovery.  The music as ever is magnificent and we are working hard on the English translation and on transcribing the music; we can promise you a great treat!  Our conductor this year is Harry Sever, with Jeremy Gray directing.  Casting and other production information will appear on the website before too long; for now please do put the dates in your diaries.

In December we are moving out of our usual rare classical-period repertory and presenting a production of Menotti’s much-loved Amahl and the Night Visitors, on 16 December at St John’s Smith Square, as part of the venue’s immensely popular Christmas Festival, and also on 21 December in Bampton Church as our annual St Beornald’s day concert celebration.  This moving, magical opera was commissioned for television and tells the story of a life-changing event in the course of the Three Kings’ journey to Bethlehem. 

Looking back

2017 told us, very firmly, that our audiences love Salieri: our performances of The School of Jealousy sold out well in advance at all our country venues.  The music sparkled and the outstanding cast was extremely strong.  We welcomed to the company several new singers: soprano Rhiannon Llewelyn, mezzo Kate Howden, tenor Alessandro Fisher and baritones Samuel Pantcheff and Matthew Sprange, as well as associate director Louise Bakker.

We also brought our touring Handel production of Apollo and Dafne to Wotton House, a wonderful music series in Buckinghamshire which has been welcoming us for several years now.  These are black tie, opera-and-dinner events, but the sparkling wit of our productions is not diluted and the intimacy of the relatively small space suits us well.

Our occasional vocal ensemble Bampton Classical Voices most recently performed, for the third successive year, at our St Beornwald’s day concert.  These concerts are always given on 21 December for no better reason than it being the feastday of Bampton’s highly obscure and otherwise uncelebrated patron saint. Conveniently close to Christmas, it brings an excellent opportunity for suitably festive music which this year included Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols and Bach’s cantata Wachet auf!.

Support us!

We have a growing group of Friends of Bampton Classical Opera - through membership you can not only support our work but also meet like-minded people at convivial events, including post-performance events and our annual Friends reception.  There are several tiers of membership, each with associated benefits, and we are particularly grateful to our Corinthian Friends, but every single membership makes a difference.  Please do consider joining the big Bampton family!

Other support
If you would like to support without becoming a Friend, you can do this in a number of ways:

We always welcome practical help, especially at summer opera time, and we are especially looking for people who can help with the work associated with get-in and get-out at all three of our venues.  It’s an opportunity to do something different and to work as part of a friendly community. If it appeals, please contact Anthony Hall for further details. Otherwise, you can:

• Make a donation – see the ‘support us’ page of our website
• Company support – become a Corporate Friend
• Advertise your business in our programme
• Help in kind – accommodate a singer, help with cast catering or with event organisation
• Spread the word!