Tuesday 4 December 2012

Out with a bang

The Peter Moores Foundation has announced that it is winding down its activities, but it is going out with a bang. The foundation's Swansong Project will mark the end of the foundation and celebrate 50 years of philanthropy (the foundation was set up by Sir Peter Moores in 1964). They will be supporting projects at 8 of the companies with which they have been closely associated, Birmingham Opera, English Touring Opera, Opera North, Scottish Opera, Welsh National Opera, English National Opera, Covent Garden and Glyndebourne. There will also be one final opera for Chandos's Opera in English series.

The projects all take place between 2013 and 2015, and reflect the diversity of the foundation's interests and activities.  There is an emphasis on 19th century Italian opera and notably bel canto, but all the operas are ones which the companies would not be able to produce without support.. There are productions of 6 Donizetti operas including two which are hardly ever performed.

 There is a site specific production of Mussorgsky's Khovanschina with Birmingham Opera, a major new production of a rarely performed work with ENO (to be announced in Spring 2013), support for ETO's spring 2013 tour of Donizetti's L'Assiedo di Calais and its spring 2015 tour of Donizetti's Il furioso all'isola di San Domingo, Glyndebourne's production of Donizetti's Poluito in 2015, Opera North's first ever production of Verdi's Otello, a new production of Wagner's The Flying Dutchman with Scottish Opera, Covent Garden's performances of George Benjamin's Written on Skin (receiving its UK premiere) and the new production of Rossini's La Donna del Lago, and WNO's performances of Donizetti's three Tudor operas, Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda, Roberto Devereux. in Autumn 2013.

The foundation was created in 1964 by Sir Peter Moores when he started providing financial support to young artists. Since then the foundation his disbursed over £215 million in projects in education, health, community work, visual arts and opera. The foundation has always been very hands one, and I suspect that the works chosen reflect Moores interests.

Without the foundation we would not have Opera Rara's huge catalogue of Italian bel canto operas, nor would we have Chandos's Opera in English series (which now numbers over 60 complete operas). Support for opera in English pre-dated the Chandos series and the foundation was behind the support for the Goodall Ring which is now included in the Chandos series. Their support for live events has always emphasised accessibility and openness. As can be seen from the list above, the foundation has supported not only 19th century bel canto repertoire (such as Rossini's Otello at Covent Garden and Rossini's Ermione at Glyndebourne) but also contemporary UK opera such as James MacMillan's The Sacrifice and George Benjamin's Into the Little Hill. The new critical edition of Carmen which was used in the Opera in English recording was supported by the foundation.

In recent years, with the supporting of the acquisition and development of Compton Verney as an art gallery, it has been clear that this would be one of foundation's long term legacies, and has represented main occupier of the foundation's resources. Compton Verney is owned by a separate charitable trust, but support from the Peter Moores Foundation has enabled the house to be magnificently restored and populated with stunning collection. (see the Compton Verney website for further information).

The foundation will be sorely missed, but Moores expresses the hope that the Swansong Project will encourage other philanthropists.

Elsewhere on this blog:

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