About Bath Opera

What we do

Bath Opera has been presenting a variety of operatic works since 1977.

Each year we perform a fully staged opera with orchestra at the Wroughton Theatre (King Edward's School). This year’s main production will be Berlioz's Beatrice and Benedict, which will be performed for three nights in February 2017.

We also present concerts and touring productions that raise money for charities in and around the City of Bath.

Recent productions include Peter Grimes (Britten), Street Scene (Weill), Nabucco (Verdi), and The Queen Of Spades (Tchaikovsky).

Rod Hunt and the Chorus of Bath Opera in Nabucco, 2013

History

The Early Years

BATH OPERA was created over 35 years ago and mounted its first fully staged production - Verdi's Macbeth - in 1977. Leading roles in this opera were sung by Jill Fowles and David Edwards, who started the group and continued to oversee it for the next two decades, shaping its policy, ensuring its survival and attracting singers, conductors, instrumentalists, directors, designers and technicians of the highest possible calibre.

In the early years, BATH OPERA explored the operatic repertoire very adventurously. We were very excited about our pioneering work in the field of Eastern European opera, featuring Glinka's Ruslan and Ludmilla and two operas by Smetana for which new English translations were provided from within the group. The fact that we performed Smetana's The Brandenburgers in Bohemia attracted nationwide attention and enabled us to attract a very wide audience indeed.

Repertoire

While trying to breathe new life into what might well be described as unjustly neglected masterpieces (when we staged Aaron Copland's The Tender Land as a small-scale summer production, Boosey & Hawkes did not even know what the royalty fee would be!), we did not neglect the operatic mainstream. Mozart, Wagner, Verdi, Puccini and Tchaikovsky have all figured in our programmes - as indeed they should. We have presented such popular hits as Carmen and Cavalleria Rusticana and alternated them with real finds such as Kurt Weill's Down in the Valley or Menotti's The Telephone. We are also very proud of having (probably) been the first amateur company to perform Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes, a hugely thrilling experience for everyone who took part and rose to the challenge.

Venues

Bath Opera has been seen at a large number of venues in and around Bath, from the wide stage of the university to the intimate space of the Rondo Theatre, from theatres in distinguished schools to the enchanting cloisters of Iford Manor, from the Pump Room in the very centre of town to gardens in High Bannerdown.

Concerts and Touring Productions

As well as our staged productions with full orchestra, we have been very active on the concert platform, where we have given programmes of operatic excerpts or semi-staged versions of whole works ranging from the baroque grandeur of Handel's Samson and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas to the effervescent operettas of Offenbach and Johann Strauss.

The Chorus

One of our criteria is to ensure that there is as much as possible for the chorus to sing. This means that our members can take a very active part at all times. We are delighted that we have a large number of dedicated choral singers, many of whom take solo parts as well. We also welcome new members at the beginning of every season in September.

Peter Grimes (2015)
 

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