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. Since 2018 it has also enjoyed a new 400 seat opera house, installed inside an historic stable block courtyard and designed by Stirling Prize winning architects Witherford Watson Mann in conjunction with theatre designers Sound Space Vision. To this day it remains the only opera house ever to be nominated for the prestigious RIBA Stirling Prize.
The two main productions on offer this year are La traviata and Don Giovanni. The former (from 10 June) will be directed by Christopher Luscombe, who is regularly employed by The Globe and Royal Shakespeare Company, and who directed, by all accounts, a fantastic Falstaff at The Grange Festival in 2019. The designer is Simon Higlett, while the production will see Nevill Holt Opera continue its ethos of building partnerships with organisations outside London by joining forces for the first time with Manchester Camerata, under the baton of British conductor Jonathan Bloxham. The three main roles are all being taken by former Jette Parker Young Artists at the Royal Opera House, with Susana Gaspar singing Violetta, Luis Gomes playing Alfredo and Michel de Souza taking the role of Giorgio Germont.
The venue presented Le nozze di Figaro in 2018 and Così fan tutte last year. Now it completes the trio of Mozart / Da Ponte collaborations with Don Giovanni (from 24 June). Nevill Holt’s Artistic Director Nicholas Chalmers will conduct the Royal Northern Sinfonia, while the production will be directed by Jack Furness, founder of Shadwell Opera, and designed by Georgia Lowe, a Linbury Prize finalist for Stage Design. Seán Boylan, winner of Garsington Opera’s Helen Clark Award, will perform the title role, while Nardus Williams, an English National Opera Harewood Artist who is currently playing Micaëla in Carmen at the Coliseum, will sing Donna Anna. They are joined by Joshua Owen Mills as Don Ottavio, Aoife Miskelly as Donna Elvira, Nicholas Crawley as Leporello, Edward Jowle as Masetto, Sofia Troncoso as Zerlina and Dingle Yandell as Il Commendatore. There will also be the chance to see this production at the Sage Gateshead on 4 and 5 July.
As well as continuing to expand its opera season, Nevill Holt Opera is committed to ensuring that as many people as possible are able to enjoy its new theatre. As a result, it will be hosting a number of additional musical events throughout the year with the first of these being Catskill Jazz Factory’s The Spirit of Harlem on 26 June. This 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 the Royal Northern Sinfonia. 2020 marks the centenary of the beginning of the Harlem Renaissance, and the show pays homage to this anniversary by presenting iconic numbers and jazz standards by, among others, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Cole Porter and Louis Prima.
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 bistro dining at the pop-up Valley View Brasserie; 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 2020 season runs from 10 June to 1 July. For full details and tickets visit the Nevill Holt Opera website.