Opera by the numbers

Opera by the numbers

Ashley Pearson

If you’re anything like me, you’re already dreaming about fresh strawberries and Prosecco, long summer evenings, and outdoor opera. While a chilly fog settles over London once again, I’m getting curious about upcoming shows and trends, so here’s a breakdown of what we’ve got to look forward to at 2017’s UK summer festivals.


We’ve got Mozart, we’ve got Puccini… we’ve got a smattering of Wagner and Janáček, among others, and even some Britten, Debussy and Gluck. But there’s something missing from this list.


Of the over 30 new productions that will be gracing British stages this summer, only two are new commissions: Hamlet for Glyndebourne, and for Young Artists and community singers at Garsington, Silver Birch. The challenge of producing new opera is not a new topic, but it is thrown into stark relief when we take a look at the numbers for the upcoming year.


Things don’t look so bad when we compare the number of new productions vs. revivals that are being produced this summer. Only the Grange Festival will be staging entirely new productions while Longborough will stage one revival (Tristan und Isolde) alongside three new productions. Glyndebourne, of their six productions, will stage one new commission (Hamlet) and two entirely new productions (Hipermestra and La clemenza di Tito.

Perhaps most troubling is the fact that only one female conductor has been engaged on any of the shows. Sian Edwards, who will be conducting the revival of Kát’a Kabanová at Opera Holland Park, was the Musical Director for the ENO from 1993-1995, and has subsequently worked across Europe and around the world. She is currently the Head of Conducting at the Royal Academy of Music.


There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about the need for more female directors in opera, and while parity hasn’t yet been reached, things are clearly going better for female directors than conductors.

So, while we may be dreaming of the far off sunshine and strawberries, as opera lovers and artists, maybe we should also expect, and demand, something more.

Complete list of Productions referenced in this article


  • *Hipermestra* (UK premiere, new production), Dir. Graham Vick, Con. William Christie
  • *La Traviata* (Revival of 2014 production), Dir. Tom Cairns, Con. Richard Farnes / Andrés Orozco-Estrada
  • *Hamlet* (New Commission), Dir. Neil Armfield, Con. Vladimir Jurowski
  • *Ariadne auf Naxos* (Revival of 2013 production), Dir. Katharina Thoma, Con. Cornelius Meister
  • *Don Pasquale* (Revival of 2011 tour production), Dir. Marianne Clement, Con. Giacomo Sagripanti
  • *La Clemenza di Tito* (New Production)Dir. Claus Guth, Con. Robin Ticciati

Garsington Opera

  • *Semele* (New production), Dir. Annilese Miskimmon, Con. Jonathan Cohen
  • *Le Nozze di Figaro* (Revival of 2005 production), Dir. John Cox, Con. Douglas Boyd
  • *Pelléas et Mélisande* (New production), Dir. Michael Boyd, Con. Jac van Steen
  • *Il Turco in Italia* (Revival of 2011 production), Dir. Martin Duncan, Con. David Parry
  • *Silver Birch* (New commission, young artists), Dir. Karen Gillingham, Con. Douglas Boyd

Opera Holland Park

  • *La Rondine* (new production), Dir. Martin Lloyd-Evans, Con. Matthew Waldren
  • *Don Giovanni* (new production), Dir. Oliver Platt, Con. Dane Lam
  • *Kát’a Kabanová* (Revival of 2009 production) Dir. Olivia Fuchs, Con. Sian Edwards
  • *Zazà* (new production), Dir. Marie Lambert, Con. Peter Robinson

Longborough Festival Opera

  • *Tristan Und Isolde* (Revival of 2015 production), Dir. Carmen Jakobi, Con. Anthony Negus 
  • *Fidelio* (New production), Dir. Orphan Phelan, Con. Gad Kadosh
  • *The Magic Flute* (New production), Dir. Thomas Guthrie, Con. Anthony Negus
  • *Orfeo ed Euridice* (New production, young artists) Dir. Maria Jagusz, Con. Jeremy Silver

Buxton Festival*

  • *Macbeth*, Dir. Elijah Moshinsky, Con. Stephen Barlow
  • *Albert Herring*, Dir. Francis Matthews, Con. Justin Doyle
  • *Lucio Silla*, Dir. Harry Silverstein, Con. Laurence Cummings

Grange Park Opera

  • *Jenufa* (Revival of 1998 WNO production), Dir. Katie Mitchell, Con. William Lacey
  • *Die Walküre* (New production), Dir. Stephen Metcalf, Stephen Barlow
  • *Tosca*, Dir. Peter Relton, Con. Gianluca Marciano

The Grange Festival

  • *Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria* (new production), Dir. Tim Supple, Con. Michael Chance
  • *Carmen* (new production), Dir. Annabel Arden, Con. Jean-Luc Tingaud
  • *Albert Herring* (new production), Dir. John Copley, Con. Steuart Bedford

Nevill Holt Opera

  • *Tosca*, Dir. Oliver Mears, Con. Nicholas Chalmers

Iford Arts

  • *La bohème* (New production), Dir. Christopher Cowell, Con. Oliver Gooch
  • *Barber of Seville* (New production), Dir. John Savournin, Con. David Eaton
  • *Jephtha*, Dir. Tim Nelson, Con. Christopher Bucknall

*Information about new productions vs. revivals was unavailable for the Buxton festival

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