While the country remains locked down, Nevill Holt Opera (NHO) is looking ahead and has made the bold decision to move its opera festival outdoors and stage it later than usual this summer. With dates now throughout August, NHO will build an outdoor stage and seating that will enable each performance to play to a socially distanced audience of up to 650 people. At the same time, Nevill Holt Opera has worked to make its pricing more affordable, with tickets starting from just £35 and free for under-18s.
The summer festival will present the operas that had been scheduled for the cancelled 2020 season – Verdi’s La traviata and Mozart’s Don Giovanni. A giant, covered stage will feature a socially distanced orchestra for each performance, while a further stage in front ensures all audience members will feel close to the action. The stage set-up is being designed to frame the sensational valley views from Nevill Holt, and to celebrate NHO’s location in Leicestershire and the East Midlands. As part of the festival’s commitment to its home, NHO will be working with more local businesses to deliver its festivalthan ever before this year.
Three seating zones will enable audiences to choose whether they would prefer to relax and spread out on picnic blankets on the lawn, to watch the opera from a comfortable seat, or to ensure they beat the weather by choosing a premium spot in a tiered and covered grandstand. Nevill Holt Opera is housed within one of England’s most beautiful country house estates and the outdoor stage will highlight the breath-taking views and enable visitors to truly immerse themselves in the landscaped gardens adorned with outstanding British sculpture including works by Anthony Gormley, Marc Quinn and Conrad Shawcross.
Managing Director, Annie Lydford, said: “We are all invigorated to be presenting our largest and most inclusive festival yet despite the challenges of the last year. We felt strongly, at this time when people crave brilliant live experiences perhaps more than ever, that reducing our capacity and raising our prices simply wasn’t an option. With fantastic artists and technicians, two creative, beautiful productions – not to mention the wonderful Nevill Holt grounds and gardens – we want to make sure our audiences have an unforgettable time with us this summer. Having received crucial support to aid our survival from government, from independent trusts and foundations, and from individuals, we recognise the responsibility we have to ensure that the communities we serve across the East Midlands can continue to enjoy fantastic performances with us this summer. Particularly, we are proud to offer hundreds of free tickets across the season completely free of charge to under-18s – a commitment which reflects the importance of the year-round education programme which has been at NHO’s core since the company began.”
Nicholas Chalmers, Artistic Director of Nevill Holt Opera, commented: “Nevill Holt Opera 2021 is to be our biggest and most ambitious festival to date. We invite you to come and immerse yourselves in the world of Mozart and Verdi in a beautiful outdoor staging. Our exceptional young artists, creative teams and orchestra partners are working hard to bring you visual and musical delights as you take in the fantastic view of the Welland Valley from our home at Nevill Holt. We are responding to the events of the last year by opening up the festival to a larger audience, sharing our high artistic standards and doing everything we can to make your experience entertaining and uplifting. We are all missing the arts and I personally cannot wait to conduct Verdi’s masterpiece, La traviata. In June, we will be hosting chamber music and solo recitals in our award-winning theatre and inviting you to share in the glories that make Nevill Holt such a special place; intimacy, spectacular gardens and wonderful singing. All this can be enjoyed while knowing you are supporting some of the very best of operatic talent, alongside our year-round programme of education work.”
NHO is an independent charity and festival run by its board, Artistic Director, Nicholas Chalmers, and Managing Director, Annie Lydford. More than 55% of its income is generated from ticket sales, 25% from fundraising and membership, 10% from other activity such as catering, merchandise and theatre hire, and 10% through an annual grant from the David Ross Foundation. NHO has received vital support this year from the Cultural Recovery Fund and from the Garfield Weston Foundation, both of which have played a crucial role in the organisation’s ability to mount a festival this summer.
In addition to its festival in August, NHO is planning to present further performances and a mini festival in June, to include chamber music and solo recitals in its theatre, as well as additional performances in August. Full details of cast and creatives will be announced in due course.
La traviata will run on 4, 5, 7, 8 and 10 August 2021 and Don Giovanni will run on 19, 20, 21, 24 and 25 August 2021 as part of Nevill Holt Opera’s Summer Festival.