Having won three RIBA East Midlands Awards earlier this year, Nevill Holt Opera’s beautiful 400-seat theatre has now been awarded a prestigious RIBA National Award. These awards are given to buildings across the UK recognised as being significant contributions to architecture.
The RIBA seeks to celebrate outstanding work and their awards are recognised internationally as a mark of excellence. This accolade from RIBA celebrates Nevill Holt Opera’s commitment to having an exceptional setting and structure in which to deliver world class opera. Designed by Stirling Prize winning architects Witherford Watson Mann and theatre designers Sound Space Vision, built by Messenger BCR and supported by the David Ross Foundation, the astonishing space was built last year, hidden within a 17th century stable block on the Grade I listed Leicestershire estate, replaced ten years of temporary tent structures.
RIBA President Ben Derbyshire stated “Despite the political and economic challenges of recent years, our 2019 RIBA National Award winners show that UK architecture is highly adaptable, immensely talented and as community-focused as ever. I am particularly heartened that more than one third (20 of 54) of our winners have creatively adapted existing buildings. Given the scale of the global environmental challenge, we must encourage sustainable development and investment in buildings of the highest quality – projects that will inspire and meet the needs of generations to come.”
Nevill Holt Opera General Manager Rosenna East commented: “We are delighted that our outstanding new theatre has been recognised with a RIBA National Award, a testament to the exceptional vision, creativity and hard work of the entire project team. From start to finish, this project has captured the imagination of all involved, and we are profoundly grateful to the David Ross Foundation for enabling it. Audiences and artists alike are now able to enjoy world class opera in this uniquely intimate and stunning space.”
The character of Nevill Holt’s stable block remains a significant part of the theatre’s aesthetic; at first hidden from view behind the original courtyard stone walls, the theatre is only fully revealed upon entering. The building’s restrained but rich material palette is brought to life by a flood of daylight from the large central rooflight, acting as a reminder of the historic function of the courtyard.
With optimal technical stage equipment and an increased pit capacity, the natural materials, skilfully selected for their acoustic warmth and visual fit, support Nevill Holt Opera’s acclaimed high artistic and musical standards, while retaining the intimacy that the company is known for.
With a horseshoe-shaped hall, the new theatre at Nevill Holt Opera provides considerable acoustical reflections, resonance, clarity and immersion that come together to breathe life into their productions. It is, as The Observer review described, ‘a place where Opera can feel fresh and alive’.
This year’s festival, supported by the David Ross Foundation, opened with a new production of Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Anna Morrissey (Noye’s Fludde 2017) and designed by Simon Kenny (Le Nozze di Figaro 2018), under the baton of Artistic Director Nicholas Chalmers. This has been followed by an elegant art-deco staging of Cosi Fan Tutte which is currently running, directed by Adele Thomas (Berenice, Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House; Eyam, The Oresteia, Shakespeare’s Globe), which she originally created for Northern Ireland Opera. Cosi fan Tutte at Nevill Holt Opera builds on the highly successful partnership with Royal Northern Sinfonia, which will see the production transfer to Stage Gateshead for two performances on 5th and 6th July.
Photo credit: Robert Workman