Newsletter March 2013

These are no longer sent out in hard copy versions but we are endeavouring to produce more on-line updates.  If you would like to receive email notification of a new edition, please let us know.

New website!

We hope you enjoy our elegant new site, which has been designed for us by Richard Pearce.  We love its fresh look and ease of accessibility – all production information is still there, but it has been arranged in such a way as to make current events more prominent. Feedback is always welcome.

Looking back

It’s been rather longer than we intended since the last edition, largely because we have been engaged in creating this new site.  Last summer seems an age away now, but the performances of the French double-bill of Philidor Blaise le savetier and Grétry L’Amant jaloux still resonate.  We had a largely new cast for these productions and they all delighted, especially Aoife O’Sullivan as Léonore, the lady of the house, and Máire Flavin as the feisty maid Jacinte, both proving superbly entertaining comic actresses as well as fine singers.  Tenors Robert Anthony Gardiner and Oliver Mercer, as jealous lover and the mistaken lover, and soprano Martene Grimson completed the Grétry cast. Martene’s illness in the middle of the Westonbirt performance meant that artistic director Gilly French made a hurried spoken substitute, a suitably entertaining diversion for a supportive audience!  The Philidor was the first half of the double-bill: violist Nina Kopparhed helped produce a performing edition of this very funny piece, and we were thrilled that five descendants of the composer made a special trip from Paris to hear the London performance!

This year’s Big Give Christmas Challenge proved to be a big improvement on the previous year’s technical problems and indeed we emerged from it successfully, having managed nearly to attain our target.  A real highlight was being invited to perform at the lavish launch party at Fortnum and Mason’s, a memorable and exciting event!

Our 2012 St Beornwald’s day concert was one of our most successful yet.  Beornwald, seasoned attenders will know, is Bampton’s obscure patron saint, whose feast-day happens to be the shortest (and, often, coldest and most miserable) day of the year.  This year’s unseasonable mild weather no doubt helped to fill the church… Our period-instrument ensemble Bampton Classical Players was joined by the London-based chamber choir Cantandum and mezzo-soprano Serena Kay for a wonderful programme of seasonal and celebratory works including the Magnificat and Gloria by Vivaldi.

Looking ahead

Young Singers’ Competition

Information about this exciting new initiative, in celebration of our 20th birthday and 21st season and in support of our commitment to young talent, can be found on the site. The competition was launched on 23 February with a memorable and convivial gala dinner at Cokethorpe School in Witney.  We are delighted to have the support of the headmaster, Damian Ettinger, and indeed the preliminary rounds will be held in the School in early November.  The public final is on 17 November 2013 at the Holywell Music Room, Oxford, and we hope you will be able to join us for this celebration of young talent.  Judges are Peter Robinson (artistic director of British Youth Opera), Bonaventura Bottone (tenor), Jennifer Caron (vocal teacher), Sholto Kynoch (accompanist and founder of the Oxford Lieder festival), and artistic director Gilly French.

Summer 2013

Our main summer production will be Mozart’s La finta semplice, sung in our new effervescent translation as Pride and Pretence.  Mozart seemed a fitting composer for our anniversary celebrations – as the most celebrated of late-18th century composers – and this piece, his first comic opera (written when he was 12), although it does get performed from time to time, is still relatively unknown.  Michael Burden of New Chamber Opera is generously giving us use of his edition, for which we are very grateful. We have assembled a top cast, with Andrew Griffiths returning to conduct, and are confident it will be a huge success – book early to save disappointment!

The Mozart plays at Bampton, Westonbirt and London, as usual, but also at a new venue, Bury Court Barn near Farnham.  Bury Court Opera was established about five years ago by two of our Friends, John Coke and Suzanne Lemieux, and we are thrilled to be trying it as a venue in the autumn.  This is an indoor event, with limited numbers, and so ticket prices will be slightly higher than for the picnic events, but will be compensated for by the indoor warmth and conviviality of being at a very special place.

Support us

And so, finally, to the usual plea.  Fundraising from charitable trusts is becoming harder and harder, and from public bodies is virtually impossible to obtain, so more and more we look to enlightened individuals to help further the Company’s aims.  We are particularly grateful to our Corinthian Friends without whom the company would probably have folded some time ago, but every contribution makes a difference. At the time of writing this, we are still short of over £19,000, but even the smallest contributions (especially when supported by Gift Aid) can help to whittle this away.

You can make a donation directly by contacting us; otherwise do consider joining our growing community of Friends, whereby you can support our work and meet like-minded people at convivial events (the next is on 11 May) – for further details please contact Claire McGlashan,