More events than ever before accompany the two main operas at this venue
Situated near Market Harborough, Nevill Holt Opera boasts beautiful gardens, sculpture by Anthony Gormley, Marc Quinn and Conrad Shawcross, and stunning views across the Leicestershire countryside. Last year it was the only venue to succeed in increasing its capacity because, when COVID-19 forced it to hold its festival outdoors, it was able to build a larger stage and seating area. This year, however, it is returning to its intimate and beautiful 400 seat opera house, opened in 2018 and installed inside an historic stable block courtyard. Designed by Stirling Prize winning architects Witherford Watson Mann in conjunction with theatre designers Sound Space Vision, it is still the only opera house ever to have been nominated for the RIBA Stirling Prize. NHO is also expanding its summer performances in 2022 so that alongside its two main productions there will be a further eight concerts from a variety of musicians and groups including Jess Gillam, Abel Selaocoe, Sam Jewison and the Dunedin Consort.
The two main productions on offer this year are La bohème and The Barber of Seville. The former (from 8 June) sees NHO joined by Manchester Camerata, which was described by The Times as ‘probably Britain’s most adventurous orchestra’. The role of Mimì will be performed by former Jette Parker Young Artist Francesca Chiejina, while Peter Scott Drackley sings Rodolfo and Harewood Artist Alexandra Oomens, recently seen as Josephine in HMS Pinafore for English National Opera, plays Musetta. Christopher Nairne is Marcello, Jette Parker Young Artist Dominic Sedgwick takes on Schaunard while Colline will be played by Dingle Yandell who was the Commendatore here in 2021. The opera will be directed by Mathilda du Tillieul McNicol, who was Assistant Director on last year’s La traviata, the designer will be Linbury Prize winner Basia Bińkowska, while NHO’s Artistic Director Nicholas Chalmers conducts.
The Barber of Seville (from 23 June) sees the return of the Royal Northern Sinfonia to NHO, led by their Principal Conductor Dinis Souza, while Anna Morrissey, responsible for A Midsummer Night’s Dream here in 2019, directs. The role of Rosina will be taken by Katie Bray while Grant Doyle, seen last year as the Forester in Opera Holland Park’s The Cunning Little Vixen, is Dr Bartolo. Liam Bonthrone performs the role of Count Almaviva, Michel de Souza, who was Germont here last year, sings Figaro and Andri Björn Róbertsson takes on Don Basilio. Former NHO Young Artist Malachy Frame assumes the role of Fiorello, while Berta will be performed by Janis Kelly whose performance of the maid’s aria ‘Il vecchiotto cerca mogile’ for Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 2016 was as good as it gets.
“Nevill Holt Opera… is returning to its intimate and beautiful 400 seat opera house…”
In addition to the two main operas, NHO’s 2022 summer festival will include orchestral music, jazz and film across a total of eight concerts. Vocal group The Swingles will perform on 10 June, while pianist and vocalist Sam Jewison is joined by his all star band on 24 June for an evening that celebrates the classic jazz of The Great American Songbook, and includes a performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. On 5 July, South African cellist Abel Selaocoe will perform Sirocco with the Manchester Collective, while presenter and saxophonist Jess Gillam will be joined by the string sections of Manchester Camerata for a programme that includes Glazunov’s Concerto in E flat major for alto saxophone and string orchestra, Op. 109 on 6 July.
The following day Thick & Tight perform Short & Sweet, a modern variety show of dance, drag, lip-syncing and satire that has been described as ‘an amuse-bouche platter of new works’. On 8 July Scotland’s leading Baroque ensemble, Dunedin Consort, will perform Handel’s Acis and Galatea on period instruments. This will be led by John Butt and feature the singers Nicholas Mulroy, Rachel Redmond, Christopher Purves, Anthony Gregory and Nicholas Scott. Then on 9 July, Manchester Camerata will provide a live score to Charlie Chaplin’s 1921 comedy drama film The Kid before a family concert rounds off the season the following day.
NHO’s Managing Director, Annie Lydford, said ‘We are so excited by the range and quality of musicians and performers joining us for this summer’s festival at Nevill Holt. As we approach NHO’s 10 year anniversary in 2023, we want to continue welcoming more and more people each year to enjoy fantastic opera, music and performance in this beautiful place’.
Nevill Holt’s Artistic Director Nicholas Chalmers added ‘Our 2022 season continues to strengthen our core NHO values. The promotion of talented singers and creatives such as Mathilda de Tillieul McNicol, who assisted on last year’s La traviata and will now direct La bohème, and Malachy Frame, who last year was in our chorus as a NHO Young Artist and this year takes on a principal role, is combined with performances from fantastic, well-established singers such as Janis Kelly and outstanding singers towards the start of their careers’.
The two main operas include 90 minute dining intervals and, as with other summer opera venues, guests are invited to bring their own picnic or to enjoy one of the many dining options that are on offer. They can book a two or three course meal in the Welland Valley Restaurant; an informal buffet menu of fresh, seasonal food in the Kitchen Garden; a private Picnic Pavilion, or even a seat in the Picnic Chapel, which contains a small stone that is a remaining part of the stone used to make Richard III’s sarcophagus in Leicester Cathedral.
• Nevill Holt Opera’s 2022 season runs from 8 June to 10 July. For further details and tickets visit the Nevill Holt Opera website. Tickets for the two main operas can be purchased now while general booking for the other eight events opens on 3 March.