Friday, 14 August 2009

Der Freischütz - Postponed

Regretfully London Lyric Opera must postpone our forthcoming concert performances of Der Freischütz in the Autumn due to factors beyond our control. It was the most difficult decision that we have ever had to make but the funding that we expected didn't materialise and the costs to mount a production of this scale were too high to contemplate without a sound financial base.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

LLO's Radio on InstantEncore



Above is link to an easy way to listen to a sample of tracks from our previous concerts. Over time we will add content but there is already excerpts from The flying Dutchman conducted by Lionel Friend with the RPO...the overture is stunning

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Die Fledermaus - Was it really over a week ago?


Company Bow

Producing a concert at this level is never easy and you are never certain how it will all turn out. So many elements to be considered ie Singers, Orchestra, Chorus, Movement, Artwork etc. Our recent Die Fledermaus was a major jump for us; not one but two performances plus the addition of a world famous concert pianist for good measure. I am happy to say that Die Fledermaus was one of LLO's greatest successes and provided a fitting end to our first season.


Charne Rochford - Eisenstein

"Charne Rochford, as Eisenstein, showed a special gift for comic roles: he has a huge talent for physical comedy, creating an expressive, hilarious and appropriately ridiculous portrait of the character." Seen and Heard. Margarita Mota-Bull


The performance was a great success on so many levels.
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra played beautifully. This is the RPO's third opera with us and each time they astound me with their dedication to the score and commitment to the performance. I don't believe that we would have reached such artistic heights without them. The scoring requires outstanding playing from all sections:


Leslie Howard with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

"The real stars of the night though, were not the solo singers but Strauss’s music and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, who delivered an excellent performance, under Madeleine Lovell's baton."
Seen and Heard, Margarida Mota-Bull




Philharmonia Chorus

"The Philharmonia Chorus did full justice to the music too, giving a solid, excellent rendition of their powerful pieces during Act II, as various guests and servants at Prince Orlofsky's party." Seen and Heard, Margarida Mota-Bull



Lise Christensen - Prince Orlofsky

"Lise Christensen created an interesting Prince Orlofsky, particularly when singing the difficult high notes of Chacun à son gout, as the higher register of her voice is solidly assured." Seen and Heard, Margarida Mota-Bull


Debra Morley - Ida
Nicky Spence - Dr Blind

"and of course Nicky Spence extracted every inch as the muddlesome lawyer."
Serena Fenwick, Musical Pointers




Garrie Davislim - Alfred

"Garrie Davislim was the attractively sung and personable Alfred, and he managed to convey that slight disdain of an opera tenor slumming it in operetta. " Peter Reed, classicalsource.com


Simon Thorpe - Falke
Jeffrey Black - Frank


"Jeffrey Black’s warm baritone made an agreeable Frank and Simon Thorpe was a convincing Dr Falke."
Seen and Heard, Margarida Mota-Bull


Debra Morley - Ida
Ana James - Adele

Pictured above are Debra Morley and Ana James. Debra gave a wonderfully rich account of Adele's sister, Ida. I hope that she will work with us again as she truly gave this relatively small role life and was an asset in every scene she was in. Oh and her top notes are stunning and sounded superb in the big finales.

"Ms James delivered possibly the outstanding performance of the evening. She was a member of the Royal Opera's Jette Parker Young Artist Programme and its influence showed throughout. She gave an accomplished, dramatically expressive performance, playing a sassy, very funny Adele, with some superb singing, especially in her final big moment, during Act III."
Seen and Heard, Margarida Mota-Bull



Sarah Redgwick - Rosalinda

"Sarah Redgwick’s warm lyric soprano had the poise, good taste and understated humour of the role; her looks were a bit too English and wholesome for her to be entirely convincing as the mysterious Hungarian countess, but when she sang it was another matter, with the ‘czardas’ agreeably insinuating and instinctive." Peter Reed, classicalsource.com



Leslie Howard played with the grace and style of a great virtuoso. His performance of the Liszt, Hungarian Fantasies was mesmerising. The change of mood was accepted readily by the audience who all sat back and watched and listened to one of the worlds great Lisztians playing a devilishly difficult piece for piano and orchestra. He was a revelation to us all. The reviewers all agree with me on this point:



Leslie Howard - mozbphotography.com

"The mystery guest was not a star singer but a star pianist, Leslie Howard, who continued the Hungarian tendency with a performance with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Liszt’s Hungarian Fantasy, very much in the heavily melancholic ‘rhapsody’ style and thrillingly played by this great Liszt virtuoso. It sat rather oddly within the context of champagne and decadence, but who cares? It’s a terrific piece." Peter Reed, classicalsource.com

"Act II traditionally includes a guest celebrity making a cabaret appearance. On this occasion Liszt specialist pianist, Leslie Howard, gave a rare performance of the Fantasie uber ungarische Volksmelodien, one of the few works that Liszt composed for piano and orchestra, which raised the loudest applause of the evening." Serena Fenwick, Musical Pointers

We were terribly lucky to find Bernard Horsfall to play Frosch, the gaoler. Bernard has a rich pedigree acting with the RSC, Dr Who, James Bond etc He agreed to be our dialogue coach, in hindsight this was one of the most important decisions we made. He came to every rehearsal and took detailed notes which he methodically passed on to the cast. His influence was vital to the dramatic integrity we were seeking and ensured that the dialogue reached the same level as the music.


Bernard Horsfall - Frosch

"The speaking part of Frosch, the gaoler, was wonderfully played by Bernard Horsfall; his appearance though brief was unforgettable."
Seen and Heard, Margarida Mota-Bull


Last but not least I must mention our conductor Madeleine Lovell. This was really her baby. Her fingerprint could be found in every element of the evening. It was a pleasure to develop this project with her.

"She is a young, graceful and exciting conductor who led the orchestra and the chorus into an intelligent, expressive and elegant rendition of this popular work. Ms Lovell had an intuitive understanding of Strauss’s witty score and ensured that the music made its full impact on a delighted audience. "
Seen and Heard, Margarida Mota-Bull


Madeleine Lovell - Conductor

"Madeline Lovell, who was highly praised for her “Fidelio” with LLO earlier this year, conducted superbly, with her fresh, springy and spontaneous approach to the Overture energising the whole evening with an instinctively light Viennese lilt that was very engaging." Peter Reed, classicalsource.com



Post Concert Reception - Mick Hurrell, Wardour; Sarah Redgwick; Liz Hughes, HSBC.




Reviews to date courtesy of www.theoperacritic.com


Sponsored by Wardour www.wardour.co.uk
Photography: www.mozbphotography.com
Venue: Cadogan Hall www.cadoganhall.com

Sunday, 14 June 2009

A teaser from Act 1 - Recorded at the Vernon Ellis concert on Monday 8th June



I wish I had some clever excuse for offering only a small 'snippet' of the Act 1 trio with Eisenstein, Adele and Rosalinda but I am afraid it is nothing more exciting than running out of room on the memory card.

This was recorded at the Vernon Ellis concert on Monday 8th June. Once again I admit my bias but Sarah Redgwick is singing the role of Rosalinda beautifully. Sarah, a Guildhall Gold Medal winner, has made her reputation singing Marzelline, Susanna, Zerlina for Scottish Opera, Opera Holland Park, Clonter Opera, Welsh National Opera etc and has recently started singing Violetta for Scottish Opera and Opera de Bauge. Many singers reach a point in their careers where they have to change repertoire as their voices develop and grow. This is such a case. What makes us so happy is the fact that Sarah still performs with the joie de vivre of a Soubrette but with the voice of a Diva. I think this is evident in the clip attached.

Charne Rochford has been a revelation to Madeleine and me. His biography is impressive. He sang First Armed Man at Glyndebourne and for English Touring Opera and sang the 1st Priest in Kenneth Branagh's film of the Magic Flute but his strong assumption of the role of Eisenstein with a voice that matches his dramatic resolve is wonderful to see...and hear. Only a small clip here so you will have to come to one of our performances if you wish to hear more of this exciting young tenor.

Ana James is, to me, the perfect Adele but I think I have already made my feelings about this exceptional soprano clear in the previous post. Unfortunately you don't get to hear much of her in this clip. :( I really should get a larger memory card.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Introducing our lovely Adele, Miss Ana James



Rehearsals are in full swing and the cast are working hard to make our performances as good as they possibly can. Ana James was cast relatively late. Our original choice had a clash with the Buxton Festival so we reluctantly agreed that we had to find a new Adele. Luckily we were told about this beautiful soprano from New Zealand with the gorgeous voice and magnetic stage presence. A few days later Ana came, sang for Madeleine and was promptly engaged on the spot.

We have been incredibly lucky with our cast. Simon Thorpe and Charne Rochford work together as if they were brothers and Lise Christensen plays the bored and world weary character of Prince Orlofsky with aplomb. Jeffrey Black brings real experience to Frank with the bonus of a beautiful baritone voice and has a perfect foil in Bernard Horsfall playing Frosch.

Nicky Spence is a younger than usual Blind. He is playing him like a young turk lawyer who unfortunately... isn't very good at his job. Debra Morley who I have worked with on several occasions is luxury casting as Ida. Debra has sung most of the lyric coloratura repertoire with great success. The fact that she is a wonderful colleague is another matter.

Garrie Davislim has spent most of his career in Vienna, Milan and guesting in Germany singing most of the lead romantic tenor roles of his Fach. A graduate of the National Opera Studio he is a perfect Alfred and a very believable 'lover' of our Rosalinda, Sarah Redgwick.

I will stop babbling on and let you enjoy the film.

Wait until you here Ana sing...

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Strauss' Waltz of Marriage: Sin, Satire and Spin...

Special e Offer to London Lyric Opera friends. Quote "LLO160609" to get a 20% discount on all ticket prices






















Our performances of Die Fledermaus at Cadogan Hall begin in 10 days. First performance at 7pm on Tuesday 16th June & the second on Friday 19th June. Soloist rehearsals begin tomorrow and the Sitzprobe with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Philharmonia Chorus is on Sunday 14th...we are literally in the home straight.

Can't wait to see it all come together. Must admit hearing Leslie Howard playing Liszt's Hungarian Fantasy will be fantastic. His rehearsal with Madeleine went extremely well...it will be quite a concert.

More about Leslies involvement here



Below is the article which our conductor, Madeleine Lovell has written for the programme. For those of you who don't know this operetta this is a very helpful and enjoyable form of introduction.


Strauss' Waltz of Marriage: Sin, Satire and Spin

After 135 glorious years as a mainstay of the operatic repertoire, it is all too easy to take Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus a little for granted. The warm familiarity of the score can perhaps endanger our appreciation of Haffner’s and Génee’s well-aimed satire – on marriage, fidelity, mid-life crisis, the aspiring actress, the self aggrandizing tenor, and the sore loser – when, in truth, Strauss’ music provides the perfect foil. It is hard to imagine a musical setting more focused on awkwardness and discomfort.

While calling upon all the stock-intrades of comedy – mistaken identity, the battle of the sexes, class-warfare, as well as the requisite happy ending – Strauss never loses sight of the emotional core of the action. Consider, for example, the giddy succession of new themes in the Finale of Act 1 (the trio for Alfred, Rosalinda and Frank), spiralling out of control just as management of the situation spins away from Rosalinda. The middle portion of this Finale (‘Dear Sir, what can you think of me?’ … ‘It’s getting late, we’re tête-à-tête’) reveals what Rosalinda is trying her best to conceal, with a vocal line whose potential urbanity is undermined by sudden leaps, awkward breaks and deliberately fussy grace notes. She uses the sophistication of the waltz to paper over her anxiety.

The underlying menace of Orlofsky is suggested in a similar way. The vocal register of Chacun à son gout, largely based around the lower-middle part of the voice, suddenly erupts into the highest part of a mezzo’s range. Strauss’ music uncovers the erratic nature of this Prince, and, through remarkable use of the high part of the voice (whose timbre will, inevitably, be very penetrating) in this aria and throughout Act 2, shows us a domineering character.



Power play is also at the heart of Rosalinda’s Act 2 show-stopper Csárdás. Supposedly the moment at which Eisenstein’s wife is least sincere, Strauss produces music of unparalleled beauty and emotional strength. Her impersonation of a Hungarian Countess ceases to be an exercise in fabulous fakery (unlike, for instance, Adele’s Audition Aria) and becomes instead a lament for the marriage that she has just seen falling apart. This mesmeric music, with its virtuoso display of the singer’s legato line and dazzling coloratura, makes us appreciate the depths of Rosalinda’s character. This in turn sheds light on why Eisenstein in the end cannot live without her.

Eisenstein’s short temper, and the associated issue of his violent jealousy, are brilliantly evoked in trios at either end of the opera. The Act 1 Trio with Rosalinda and Blind begins noisily as Eisenstein storms in, biting out his criticism of his incompetent lawyer, and barely letting anyone else get a word in. Despite Rosalinda’s best efforts to calm him with two passages of soothing Andante, Eisenstein’s bad mood shows no sign of abating. Blind’s ill-conceived and long-winded description of how he will sort things out merely tips him over the edge. Strauss demonstrates an equally masterful handling of pace in the Act 3 Trio for Eisenstein, Rosalinda and Alfred. Time and again Eisenstein’s short fuse looks set to sabotage his ambush of his ‘unfaithful wife’ as he cannot stop his own horrified outbursts as more details of the story are revealed. The sheer rhythmic force of the final section, as well as the contrast between a heavily accented three-note ascent high in the voice (‘Ei-sen-stein’) followed by a legato four-note descent low in the voice (‘though I was cheated’) drives this Trio to its breathless conclusion. Strauss, of course, last used this music at the beginning of the Overture, cleverly rounding off the opera by identifying its main musical theme with the belligerent
main character.

No account of Strauss’ handling of pace in Die Fledermaus would be complete, however, without mention of the descent into paralytic drunkeness that is the multi-sectional Act 2 Finale. What begins with a champagne toast, quickly dissolves into hiccups and a joyous collective decision to invade one another’s most personal space. The lurching theme of the final section shows us the revellers in the last stages of intoxication. Bacchus would have approved.


© Madeleine Lovell
Queens’ College Cambridge


Please don't forget our Fledermaus launch concert at Vernon Ellis' House 49 Queen's Gate Terrace. Monday 8th June. 7 - 7.30pm.

As usual we have pulled out all the stops with appearances by Sarah Redgwick, Rosalinda singing the Czardas; Ana James, Adele will sing the Audition Aria; Simon Thorpe, Falke will sing the famous Bruederlein and Lise Christensen, Orlofsky will sing Orlofsky's famous aria.

Plus 30 members of the Philharmonia Chorus who will sing the final champagne chorus. A wonderful way to spend a summers evening. Madeleine Lovell will conduct and give a short talk about the piece, with Margaret Marinkovic on the piano.

Fine wines and canapes will be served. Seats are still available please book here

Please email us at info@londonlyricopera.com if you would like any further information.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Philharmonia Chorus rehearsing Die Fledermaus



Last night I popped in to watch the penultimate Philharmonia Chorus rehearsal before the Conductor's call next week. It is wonderful to hear the music sung with such joy. This was recorded off the cuff with a very small camera but the results are pretty good. The Chorus Master/ Philharmonia Artistic Director is Edward Caswell ably assisted by Stephen Rose on the piano.

All other plans are going well but the complexity of mounting a production at this level never ceases to amaze me. Rehearsals for the principals start in earnest next week with the Vernon Ellis
event on Monday the 8th at 49 Queen's Gate Terrace as a taster for our friends and sponsors.

Tickets are still available.

I hope this will tempt more of you to come to our performances.

Friday, 22 May 2009

LLO on Bachtrack

Find London events on Bachtrack

Yesterday I had a long chat with Alison Karlin, Founder of the UK's newest concert search engine/resource Bachtrach.com subsequently I registered LLO and entered the concert details for Die Fledermaus here. Terrific site as it gives so much detailed information about the concerts and provides us with another way to find our audience. We wish them well.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Deborah Riedel (1958 - 2009) Die Fledermaus dedicated to the Inspirational Australian Soprano


Earlier this year the opera world lost one of its brightest stars, the inspirational Australian Soprano, Deborah Riedel passed away in January after a 10 year battle with Cancer. The news hit all singers in Australia and many overseas very hard as few people knew that she was so ill. I first met her in the mid 80's when she gave a concert in Melbourne with other members of the Australian Opera ( Opera Australia today) Chorus at the Wesley Church in Melbourne. Donald Solomon, an old friend of my parents introduced us all to her. From that moment on I was an admirer of her work and was captivated by her lovely, warm nature. Here I was not alone. She was truly universally loved...an example to us all.

Years later she returned to Melbourne to sing Leila in the Pearlfishers and later had a triumph as Marguerite in Ian Judge's brilliant production of Faust both staged by the Victoria State Opera and conducted by Richard Divall. Like many of my contemporaries I rated Deborah Riedel as one of the great singers of her generation. When I first heard her she had a beautiful warm Mezzo-Soprano voice. Later she made the change into a full lyric Soprano and so began a major International career.

She enjoyed the support of Dame Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge who conducted many of her greatest triumphs some during her courageous 10 year battle with cancer. Her loss at such a young age is so cruel for many reasons. Some of her greatest work especially her Sieglinde in the State Opera of South Australia's historic Ring Cycle (note: Her Siegmund was the Tenor, Stuart Skelton currently singing Peter Grimes for ENO) was during this time.

LLO began this tradition when I dedicated LLO's concert performance of The flying Dutchman at the Barbican to my late father, Eric Hancock and followed this by dedicating Fidelio to a dear German lady, opera lover and supporter, Edith Kraus. I wrote an email to the cast asking them for suggestions and her old friend and colleague Jeffrey Black (Frank in Die Fledermaus) wrote back suggesting Deborah Riedel. Dedicating these performances is a small gesture but we hope it will offer comfort to her husband the tenor, Paul Ferris (who will be attending one of the performances) and also encourage members of our audience to give to one of the charities that we support, Marie Curie Cancer Care whose work is so important.

Obituaries:
A Statement by Richard Bonynge from the Opera Australia website
The Independent
The Times
The Australian

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Haydn's, The Creation at Cadogan Hall


Jane Glover - Conductor

Last night I had the pleasure of hearing the London Mozart Player's performance of Haydn's, The Creation at Cadogan Hall. Soloists were Carolyn Sampson, who jumped in for an indisposed Joan Rogers; Andrew Staples, Tenor and Iain Patterson, Bass. The Vasari Singers, a London chamber choir that I was unfamiliar with, were wonderful.

The performance was conducted with vigour and an incredible energy by Jane Glover. I enjoyed it immensely, it was an outstanding performance of this great work by 'Papa' Haydn. Andrew Staples, our Jaquino in Fidelio, sang with ease and glorious purity of tone. Iain Patterson was incredible. I can see why his career is so meteoric. He coloured every line and had the most beautiful sound in every part of his seamless voice. Carolyn Sampson complimented this strong line-up with elan and grace. When I started writing this a review was furthest from my mind but a wish to share my sadness with the attendance. I heard that it was somewhere in the region of 350, less than half of the capacity of Cadogan Hall. The concert game is a risky one but a concert with such strong constitiuent parts deserved a much larger audience.

This is the lot of a concert promoter/ orchestra or choir giving a concert. Trying to reach your prospective audience is hard enough...a science in itself ...but then converting that into a ticket sale is another matter entirely.

Cadogan Hall, London ©mozbphotography.com

Cadogan Hall,as you can imagine, is one of my favourite venues in London. The location is priceless and convenient to one of the nicest parts of London. The acoustic is superb, the seats are very comfortable and the overall feel of the venue is one of comfort and style. As I am discovering there is no textbook which explains concert attendance. How often do you go to a well attended concert and the standard is poor, the artists are below par? The logic should be that the great concerts should have full houses. Sadly this isn't the case. No great mystery there as one of the joys of live performance is that you never know what is going to happen. Is the soprano going to soar effortlessly? Is the tenor going to crack? etc so when all of the elements are right well...it is magical. Maybe one day Apple will invent an app that will point us in the right direction. If they did I wouldn't want one. Where is the fun in that?

I wish London Mozart Player's well in their 60th anniversary year. The next 60 years look very sound if Friday's concert is an example. Bravo.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

LLO now on Youtube, InstantEncore and Issuu

Trying to keep pace with the technology on offer is fast becoming a regular preoccupation. To date we are on Facebook , Twitter, InstantEncore the regular concert listings on concert-diary.com plus the LLO website and this blog. Yesterday I registered LLO on issuu.com so we could publish all of our artwork, flyers and posters. It will even come in handy as a way to publish press releases. The intricacies of the site are still way beyond me but thanks to an easy to use interface I hope to use it alot. Last but not least is LLO's own channel on Youtube.com Early days as I have only uploaded one short film with Madeleine Lovell but keep coming back as it too is an incredibly handy way for us to spread the word. Over the next couple of weeks I intend to post short interviews with the cast and with Leslie Howard

Friday, 8 May 2009

Madeleine Lovell, Conductor of Die Fledermaus, introduces London Lyric Opera's Cadogan Hall spring season



Madeleine Lovell, conductor for Die Fledermaus introduces LLO's coming concert performances at Cadogan Hall. We had a valuable day meeting Gill Dixon, Events Manager at Cadogan Hall and a brief meeting with James Tapping their Technical Director to discuss our requirements for Die Fledermaus. Thanks to Cadogan Hall's state of the art lighting rig we have a myriad of options available to us to enhance the look of the evening. With 68 singers in the Philharmonia Chorus and 46 in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra we have to be sure of our planning to ensure we maximise the performance space but avoid singers 'bumping' into the orchestra. As you can imagine space will be at a premium. The concert Steinway grand has to be moved centre stage after the first act...this is the easy part...getting it off in a 'unobtrusive' way will be fun.



Madeleine Lovell - Conductor ©mozbphotography.com

Afterwards a very helpful time was spent planning the entrances and exits plus props and the many other requirements. A very enjoyable day with a constant stream of ideas coming from Bernard and a couple of very silly ones thrown in for good measure.

Music calls have begun. Madeleine is personally coaching the cast before rehearsals begin. This was a tradition started by Lionel Friend when he prepared The flying Dutchman cast months before.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Debra Morley to sing Ida

Lovely English soprano, Debra Morley will be singing the role of Ida. Her experience with many of the UK's finest companies covers most of the lyric coloratura repertoire. Miss Morley will compliment our already strong cast. More details soon.

Tomorrow will be a busy day. A production meeting with Madeleine Lovell and Bernard Horsfall after an inspection of the stage at Cadogan Hall. With the flyer ready now and about to be printed we have alot of work ahead of us to get the word out about our performances. Press release will be issued shortly.




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Our beautiful flyer is here.. Die Fledermaus at Cadogan Hall

Delighted to share the flyer for Die Fledermaus with you all.
Illustration by Amelie Hegardt/Darling Management and designed by the talented Orla McAvinue at Wardour

Friday, 1 May 2009

Jeffrey Black - The busy baritone


Jeffrey Black is singing Frank for LLO in our upcoming performances of Die Fledermaus at Cadogan Hall. After a major international career as a lyric baritone he decided to take two years off to focus on the dramatic Verdi baritone repertory. After we engaged him as the Inspector, Frank he was booked by Chelsea Opera Group to sing the title role in Simon Boccanegra with them on June 7th. A few weeks later and he has been booked to understudy Falstaff at Glyndebourne in the current production. We are looking forward to working with this very highly sort after baritone in Fledermaus at Cadogan Hall, Tuesday June 16th and Friday June 19th 2009.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

A few words about the beautiful illustrations...


Wardour became our design and branding partner in May 2008. From our first production at Leighton House we have commissioned an illustration for every production. The process starts with a brief to Wardour which pretty much sums up what the opera/ concert is about, what look we are after, period, feel etc. Lisa Cromer, Wardour's Design Director has unenviable task of trying to make sense of my musings and thoughts and somehow offer me with drawings that are exactly what I was after all along but didn't really know how to say it...see what I mean. Lisa sends me samples of work by illustrator's she believes compliment the work we are doing. The striking work of
Amelie Hegardt/ Darling Management jumped out at us. Die Fledermaus epitomises fun and style. A comedy of manners and a light-hearted poke at infidelity and the seven year itch. Rosalinde is one of Opera's most glamorous characters and we believe that Amelies gorgeous illustration has captured this idea with her glamourous illustration of this beautiful woman.

The next stage is the Flyer and Poster. A good example is the illustration we had for our first concert, Passion of Puccini at Leighton House. The illustrator here was Noumeda Carbone which set the bar very high for all future concerts. The brief was to combine the three heroines from the opera's we were presenting in excerpts. La Boheme (Mimi), Tosca and Madam Butterfly. The result was an image which was a major factor in helping LLO find and attract our audience and was the reason we decided to stick with the concept of strong illustrations for every concert.



...and Sam Weber's illustration for Fidelio. Interestingly enough Cadogan Hall's marketing people were so taken by the design they happily had this poster in the most prominent position, next to the box office, for over a month. From Sloane Square tube it just looked fantastic.



...then the final stage is the Programme which Wardour, to date, have taken the illustration and used elements of it throughout the programme on each and every page in the most imaginative and amazing ways eg Cycles was our next concert at Cadogan Hall, the brief asked for lush and vibrant colours with a strong floral influence plus references to the songs ( it was a concert of orchestral song cycles) and the poetry we were presenting. The illustration was by Izumi Nogawa. The programme was B5 and was a very impressive 44 pages including cover.

If you have a minute scroll through the programme (there are more on the issuu site on the side bar on the left of an enlarged page) and be, as I was at he time, amazed at the inventiveness and sheer style of the designers at Wardour.


The flying Dutchman
was next in November 2008. This was the major concert of our year and Evelina Frescura didn't let us down with this striking and evocative illustration. Dutchman is one of Wagner's early operas but is on the cusp of his mature works which are famous for the power and intensity of the plots, music and characters. I don't know how she did it but somehow a 'simple' drawing of a ship told a story and created a mood that enhanced the concert we were about to perform. The articles within the programme are wonderful. Page 16 & 17 is a brilliant piece by Germaine Greer. I know for a fact that the Wardour team loved this spread.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Cadogan Hall's new Summer 2009 brochure. Published on issuu.com

Open publication - Free publishing - More venue

Just in case you don't scroll to the front cover.
Once again the Cadogan Hall designers have
created a beautiful brochure booklet.
Their simple and elegant designs
are always eye catching




Friday, 24 April 2009

Hans Henkell...Sponsor update


LLO have been blessed to have such generous and supportive sponsors.
Hans Henkell, Henkell Australia Investment Managers www.henkell.com.au
has been with us since the beginning. He is very well known in Australia as a supporter of the Arts especially through Opera Foundation Australia, The German-Australian Opera Grant which is a Scholarship for a young Australian singer to work with the Wiesbaden Opera Company and his support of Co-Opera who are now touring Europe with his support. A fascinating man in many ways but his love for the arts is infectious.

Thank you Hans for your support

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Die Fledermaus is on sale...Two performances

Die Fledermaus is now on sale at Cadogan Hall. Sponsored by Wardour for the first time we will have two performances. The first on Tuesday 16th June and the second on
Friday 19th June. Both performances will begin at 7.00pm with a pre-performance talk at 6.00 in the main auditorium.

This is a major step forward for us. I hope we manage to repeat the success we had with Fidelio with a near sell out house.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Adele completes our cast...Ana James to sing this wonderful role for LLO.



Ana James has just accepted our offer to sing Adele. After an exhaustive search we are thrilled to have a singer of her quality in our cast. A native of New Zealand, graduate of the Manhattan School of Music and the ROH Young Artist programme : Attached is the announcement we made on our Twitter account. More information here.

Now that our cast is complete the real work begins. Madeleine. Myself and Bernard are working though the dialogue, score and stage directions now. We plan to follow the style of our previous two productions; Singing from memory, dramatically convincing and strong performances from the cast. The added element of a world class concert pianist playing with the RPO will give the audience a memorable night at the opera.

The international nature of our cast is evident. Simon Thorpe, Garrie Davislim [half Irish] and Jeffrey Black (Australia), Nicky Spence (Scotland), Edel Shannon (Ireland), Ana James (New Zealand), Sarah Redgwick, Charne Rochford and Bernard Horsfall (England) and Lise Christensen (Denmark).

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Veteran Actor Bernard Horsfall to star as Frosch in London Lyric Opera's Concert Performances of Die Fledermaus at Cadogan Hall


Bernard Horsfall has appeared in many television and film roles including On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), Enemy at the Door (ITV, 1978-1980), Gandhi (1982) , The Jewel in the Crown (1984), The Hound of the Baskervilles (ITV, 1988) and Braveheart (1995). 



He has made several guest appearances in the BBC science fiction television series
 Doctor Who. His first was as Lemuel Gulliver The Mind Robber (1968). His other appearances were as a Time Lord The War Games (1969), Taron Planet of the Daleks (1973) and Chancellor Goth The Deadly Assassin (1976).

Other television credits include : Doctors BBC: Murder Rooms: The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes BBC: Casualty BBC: Poirot ITV: Between the Lines BBC and The Bill Thames TV.

Bernard toured Europe in a production of My Fair Lady as Colonel Pickering and appeared at the Royal Opera House and the Chatelet, Paris as Merlin King Arthur (Purcell) dir. Graham Vick, cond. William Christie.

Theatre credits include the title role in Cymbaline dir. Bill Alexander; Pistol Henry V dir. Adrian Noble; Player King Hamlet dir. Adrian Noble; Old Capulet Romeo & Juliet; Old Shepherd Winter’s Tale dir. Tony Hands; The Director Sarcophagus; York Richard II and Le Grue Red Noses all at the RSC. Old Shepherd and Hymen As you like it at the Crucible, Sheffield and Sir Patrick Cullen The Doctor’s Dilemna at the Almeida both directed by Michael Grandage.

George Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf? Dir. John Fernald; George Jumpers dir. Phil Young; Solness The Master Builder dir. John Fernald all at the Leeds Playhouse. The Severed Head (Iris Murdoch) dir. Val May at the Criterion Theatre; Hancock 1776 (musical) dir. Peter Hunt at the Albery; The Marquis Camille (RSC Prod.) dir. Ron Daniels at the Comedy Theatre.

Bernard Horsfall’s Showreel



Bernard Horsfall website

Appearing in Die Fledermaus

Friday, 10 April 2009

Special Guest Star -Acclaimed Concert Pianist Leslie Howard to play with the RPO in Die Fledermaus


Leslie Howard

Die Fledermaus would not be complete without a guest appearance by a true virtuoso performer. LLO are delighted to announce that Leslie Howard, whose work includes the largest recording project ever undertaken by a solo pianist when he completed a marathon effort to personally record all of Liszt's piano works for Hyperion Records on 97 CDs, will play a piano concerto by Liszt, with the RPO accompanying, in the Gala scene in the middle of Act 2.

This all came about from an earlier concert that LLO produced in September 2008, Cycles at Cadogan Hall conducted by Madeleine Lovell. Leslie wrote to us complimenting the playing of the orchestra and Madeleine's conducting and made a passing remark saying,"I would be delighted to play a concerto here on this stage under Madeleine's direction". I remember thinking at the time that it isn't every day a world class concert pianist makes that kind of an offer (at the time I don't think he expected me to take him up on it so be warned...) but as LLO produced operatic concert performances I thought an opportunity would never come. Months passed and we decided to do Fledermaus...that is another story...Now normally in the gala scene famous singers will come out and sing a party piece and wow us with their vocal fireworks but the Leslie Howard idea was simmering away. Why not? Thankfully Amanda Williams at Amex Centurion Card liked the idea which was important as they are promoting us to their cardholders and Madeleine loved it. The only problem now was to twist his arm and remind him of an email he wrote in September.

I think I called Leslie just after Christmas 08, he probably thought I was mad but here we are. The title of the piece will remain a secret but rest assured Prince Orlofsky should be pleased.

More information about Leslie and his career can be found here

Leslie Howard playing Liszt's, "Cszardas S.225/1





ps No arm twisting was required. If you happen to see a smile on his face while he is playing Liszt with the RPO well...

pps Leslie's biography

Die Fledermaus - Update and Casting

Illustration by Amelia Hegardt, Design by Wardour

The last few weeks have been incredibly busy. Planning for our 2010 season is well in hand and the confirmation of a second performance of Fledermaus has created its own excitement.

Madeleine and I heard many fine singers and are thrilled with our cast. Sarah Redgwick will be a sensational Rosalinde. Sarah not only sings beautifully etc but has incredible charisma and presence when she is on the stage. Her husband will be the charming Charne Rochford as Eisenstein.

Falke will be sung by rising baritone ( WNO,ON, GTO, OA ) Simon Thorpe and the Alfred by tenor Garrie Davislim who completely beguiled us in his audition and we offered him the role on the spot.

Internationally experienced baritone Jeffrey Black is luxury casting as Frank. Jeffrey has graced the stages of the Met, ROH and many other great houses throughout the world and we are delighted to have him in our cast. Lise Christensen singing Orlofsky who has sung the role for Scottish Opera. Nicky Spence returns to LLO after his beautifully sung first prisoner in Fidelio and the delightful Edel Shannon completes the cast as Ida...but not quite. Veteran actor, Bernard Horsfall who has starred in Dr Who and James Bond will be a perfect Frosch. I have known Bernard for many years and was thrilled when he agreed to be involved.

Finally we come to Adele. We will be able to confirm her early next week. What I can say is that she is fabulous. All in all a very fine ensemble cast.



Thursday, 26 February 2009

Die Fledermaus auditions

We announced our auditions for Fledermaus today. Tuesday 10th March 2009. All roles to be cast. Quite a daunting prospect as I am a singer myself and am not overly fond of the audition process but until somebody comes up with a better way to choose a cast we are stuck with it. More info can be found here: http://londonlyricopera.googlepages.com/diefledermausauditionannouncement

Looking forward to seeing this develop. It is always a journey...never the same as the last.
James x

Friday, 20 February 2009

Fidelio triumphant 2



























To date LLO have produced Passion of Puccini at Leighton House in June 08, Cycles at Cadogan Hall in September 08, The flying Dutchman at the Barbican conducted by Lionel Friend with the RPO in November 08 and now Fidelio.

The hardest thing to adjust to is the period of quiet after each project. The amount of work to create such events is staggering but the actual concert is about 2-3 hours long. Moving forward is the answer so the preparations for Fledermaus have begun in earnest. Delighted to say that Amex Centurion card are using our June Fledermaus as an event for their card holders which is fabulous news for us. Violetta Tosic, LLO Company Manager ( actually she wears many more hats. PR, Event Mangager, Artistic Admin, Corporate Strategy etc.) and I had a meeting today with the Front of House Manager at Cadogan Hall, Walter Morrison and David Haigh, Assistant FOH to wrap up Fidelio and to discuss out plans for Fledermaus. This will be our 3rd event at Cadogan Hall and the assistance they provide is very hard to beat. I don't think we could do this without such solid support. The Amex event is going to be superb.

We received the pics from the Vernon Ellis event at 49 Queens Gate Terrace on the 12th Feb and I have posted a few here. Terrific night. Fabulous food from Baker and Spice and a lovely selection of fine wines, including a wine tasting, from Novum Wines capped it off. I think the blending of Music, Food and Wine was a real hit so we will definitely follow that format again. Look out for the Die Fledermaus event in June



Soloists Andrew Staples, Sarah Redgwick (who jumped in for Rachel Nicholls), Richard Wiegold, Nicky Spence, myself and the Philharmonia Chorus gave our audience a short sample of the opera with an incredibly concise explanation by Madeleine Lovell. Paul Webster played the Ellis' beautiful Steinway. Hazel Ellis hosted the evening and fortunately Vernon was able to come. I gave a rambling talk at the end but thankfully Martin MacConnell, Wardour's CEO gave a much more polished performance.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Fidelio triumphant

For my first attempt at a blog I couldn't think of a better way to begin but to thank the Cast who were galvanised by Elizabeth Connell's stunning Leonore,our wonderful guest Conductor, Madeleine Lovell; our first class orchestra the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philharmonia Chorus and Queens' College Chapel Choir who gave such a brilliant performance on Tuesday night. We were all delighted to see such a fantastic audience. A full house is always inspiring for the performers so we all want to thank those who braved a cold Winters night to come to Cadogan Hall.




Illustration, Sam Weber;Design, Wardour


Reviews have started appearing and once again we are thrilled to see such positive comments from the press.


Full Company Bow - Fidelio ©mozbphotography.com



As I said I am new at this and will hopefully relax into the idea of sharing LLO's thoughts with the world.


Philharmonia Chorus & Queen's College Chapel Choir - Fidelio


Until my next post

James H