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Arts of the UK: Rising stars to headline Nevill Holt Opera’s 2020 festival


LEICESTERSHIRE –  In its biggest summer festival to date, Nevill Holt Opera will present two of the world’s most beloved operas, Verdi’s La traviata and Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Located in one of England’s most beautiful country house estates, the new theatre at Nevill Holt Opera is the only opera house ever to be shortlisted for the prestigious 2019 RIBA Stirling Prize – the highest accolade in UK architecture – as well as having won the Stirling Prize People’s Vote.

Nevill Holt Opera is quickly building its reputation for showcasing some of the UK’s most talented young singers as they take on their most significant roles to date. It has been home to the early careers of some of the UK’s finest opera singers, including David Butt Philip, Anthony Gregory and Clare Presland.

This summer, the glorious music of Verdi’s La traviata will be brought to life in an elegant new staging from director Christopher Luscombe (Verdi’s Falstaff, Grange Festival, 2019; Nell Gwynn, Shakespeare’s Globe and Apollo – Olivier Award for Best New Comedy) and designer Simon Higlett.

For this production, Nevill Holt Opera will join forces for the first time with Manchester Camerata, continuing their ethos of building partnerships with organisations outside of London, under the baton of talented British conductor Jonathan Bloxham (past Assistant Conductor at City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Glyndebourne Festival Opera).

At the centre of this tale of tragic love, three former Jette Parker Young Artists reunite – Susana Gaspar as the beautiful courtesan Violetta Valéry, Luis Gomes as Alfredo Germont and  Michel de Souza as Giorgio Germont. Will the infamous parties continue? Or will they be forced to sacrifice their happiness to the hypocrisy of high society?

Following critically-acclaimed performances of Cosi Fan Tutte and Le nozze di Figaro Don Giovanni is the much anticipated third opera in Nevill Holt Opera’s Mozart – Da
Ponte cycle. Royal Northern Sinfonia returns alongside a cast of outstanding young singers in a new production directed by rising star Jack Furness, founder of ambitious and innovative Shadwell Opera, and designed by Georgia Lowe (Equus, ETT/ Stratford East/Trafalgar Studios), a Linbury Prize finalist for Stage Design. Conducting will be Nevill Holt’s Artistic Director Nicholas Chalmers.

Lighting design for both La traviata and Don Giovanni will be by award-winning Lighting Designer D.M. Wood (Berenice, The Royal Opera; Mamzer Bastard, The Royal Opera/Hackney Empire). Seán Boylan, winner of Garsington Opera’s Helen Clark Award, will perform the dangerous title character. Praised for her “superbly controlled, sensuous soprano” (Opera Today), Nardus Williams, an English National Opera Harwood artist, will sing the role of Donna Anna.

They are joined by Dingle Yandell as Il Commendatore, Joshua Owen Mills as Don Ottavio, Aoife Miskelly as Donna Elvira, Nicholas Crawley as Leporello, Edward Jowle as Masetto and Sofia Troncoso as Zerlina.

Nicholas Chalmers, Artistic Director of NHO comments: “We are delighted to announce our 2020 season with two new productions involving some of the best creative, singing, and orchestral talent. Nevill Holt Opera prides itself on producing work in the East Midlands. Our reach with our awardwinning education and young artists programmes extends across the Midlands and north-east, and this season includes a new partnership with Manchester Camerata who will perform for La traviata with British conductor, Jonathan Bloxham.”

“Our highly acclaimed Mozart cycle continues with a new production of Don Giovanni with Royal Northern Sinfonia. Not only can this production be heard in the intimacy of our Stirling Prizenominated theatre, audiences will also be able to enjoy Don Giovanni in the stunning acoustic at Sage Gateshead. Nevill Holt Opera wants to ensure future audiences for opera. We achieve this by discovering the best young operatic talent, integrating our work with 34 academy schools, and by creating excellent productions in the most exquisite surroundings with the best orchestras in the UK.”

Managing Director, Annie Lydford, says: “It is a joy to join Nevill Holt Opera at a time when it is really going from strength to strength. The beautiful new theatre is a testament to the hard work and vision of the company over the last few years. Now, we are looking forward to that theatre being enjoyed by more people than ever before, in our biggest season to date, with two of the best-loved operas of all time. We can’t wait to hear these two fantastic casts on our stage.”

With a history of hosting touring opera productions on the estate since 2005, Nevill Holt Opera was founded in 2013 as an independent festival with its own distinctive vision. Since it began, Nevill Holt Opera has been committed to casting and working with young UK opera singers, while bringing award-winning opera to the East Midlands.

The new theatre has been designed by Stirling Prize-winning architects Witherford Watson Mann in conjunction with theatre designers Sound Space Vision. The character of Nevill Holt’s stable block remains a significant part of the theatre’s aesthetic; at first hidden from view behind the original courtyard stone walls, the theatre is only fully revealed upon entering. In addition to continuing to grow and expand its opera season, Nevill Holt Opera is committed to ensuring that as many people as possible are able to enjoy its beautiful new theatre.

As part of this, the theatre will be hosting a number of additional musical events throughout the year. The first of these is Catskill Jazz Factory’s The Spirit of Harlem on Friday 26th June at 5.30pm. This breath-taking celebration of the music of Harlem will be performed by a virtuosic ten-piece ensemble led by chart-topping trumpeter Dominick Farinacci and joined by musicians from Royal Northern Sinfonia. 2020 marks the centenary of the beginning of the Harlem Renaissance, and the show pays homage to this important anniversary with iconic numbers and jazz standards by Duke Ellington, Fast Waller, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Cole Porter and Louis Prima among others.

At Nevill Holt Opera, guests experience breath-taking views; landscaped gardens adorned with outstanding sculpture including works by Anthony Gormley, Marc Quinn and Conrad Shawcross; and a whole host of dining and picnicking options. Depending on their preferences, guests are invited either to bring their own picnic or to enjoy bistro dining at the pop-up Valley View Brasserie; an informal buffet menu of fresh, seasonal delights in the Kitchen Garden; a private Picnic Pavilion; or a seat in the beautiful Picnic Chapel.

La traviata plays from 10th to 14th June 2020, while Don Giovanni plays from 24th June to 1st July 2020 at Market Harborough, Leicestershire, LE16 8EG. For more information visit


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