Tuesday 20 June 2023

Support emerging young artists, whose commitment is unparalleled, literally realise their dream in front of your eyes: Longhope Opera stages Rossini's La Cenerentola

Longhope Summer Opera (Photo Tom Lovatt)
Longhope Summer Opera (Photo Tom Lovatt)

On 1 and 2 July 2023, Longhope Opera will be presenting Rossini's La cenerentola on the Longhope Estate in Newton Valence on the South Downs. Matt O'Keeffe, founder of Longhope Opera, conducts the Scherzo Ensemble and Rosie Kat directs, with a cast of young and emerging artists including Alexandra Meier in the title role, with Jorge Carlo Mariani, Jake Muffett, James Quilligan, Meilir Jones, Daniella Sicari, and Beca Davies. There is also a free performance for local children on 30 June.

Founded in 2019, Longhope Opera is made up entirely of early young, early career professionals in the opera industry - singers, orchestral musicians, creatives, crew, and management staff. They aim to provide a much less commercialised and more intimate version of the bigger opera festivals, because of their remote location and smaller capacity. 

With audiences of 350 people, guests can soak up the beautiful surroundings with ease and enjoy first-rate opera in a much more intimate setting.  The company's mission is to bring the joy and beauty of opera to audiences while creating professional opportunities for talented young professional singers, orchestral musicians, creatives, crew, and management staff in the opera industry.  

Guests are invited to take walks around the grounds, enjoy the various outdoor chamber recitals and attend a drinks reception before taking their seats for the main event. After the first act, there is a long dining interval where guests can enjoy their picnic hampers or catered dinners while overlooking the rolling hills of the South Downs as the sun sets. 

Of course, all is not sweetness and sun. 

The company epitomises the ‘squeezed middle’ in arts funding. Its mission is to bring opera to audiences in a more intimate way and at more reasonable prices than more commercialised opera festivals and to create paid professional opportunities for those trying to break into the opera industry. Due the competitive nature and financial implications of arts professions, many who spend up to nine years in training often have to take supplementary jobs which can easily mean falling out of the circuit altogether. As a medium-sized opera company, Longhope Opera finds itself in an interesting position – not big enough to boast a sizable development team or long lists of donors, yet too large to function like fringe opera groups which mount small productions without orchestras, sets or crew, and survive off of ticket revenue and small donations, whilst often not paying their musicians well enough. 

Stephanie Waldren, the company's general manager comments, "To keep companies like ours going, we need music enthusiasts to take a punt on the company they’ve not heard of before. Don’t go to the same festival again and again – shop around! You might find you prefer something more home-grown and intimate. Support emerging young artists, whose commitment is unparalleled, literally realise their dream in front of your eyes." 

Full details from Longhope Opera's website.

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