The Guildhall School presents an evening of ‘Opera Scenes’ in London and Shanghai

The Guildhall School’s award-winning Opera department presents a series of informal performances of classical and contemporary operatic excerpts in London and Shanghai. ‘Opera Scenes’ opens on 25 March at Milton Court and transfers to the Shanghai Grand Theatre on 3 April and is directed by Victoria Newlyn with musical director Susanna Stranders.

The performances in Shanghai, which are supported by the City of London Corporation and the Shanghai Grand Theatre Arts Group Cultural Development Foundation, will be called the Opera Connect Gala and take place during the UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange in 2015. The event forms part of a continuing development of the Guildhall School’s cultural relations with China; it is expected that the School will subsequently receive a reciprocal visit from Chinese opera artists as well as other arts practitioners of the Shanghai Grand Theatre Arts Group in support of an Anglo-Chinese professional development programme. The School, which is part of the City’s evolving ‘Cultural Hub’ north of St Paul’s, is also involved in other collaborations in China during 2015: following a successful UK-China arts and education forum in 2009 in London, the School will be co-ordinating a follow-up forum at the China Shanghai International Arts Festival in October later this year with the support of the Chinese Ministry of Culture, the British Council and leading UK arts institutions.

In ‘Opera Scenes’, 12 singers and two repetiteurs from the Guildhall School Opera Course will perform a range of excerpts in a workshop setting, including scenes from Poulenc’s Les mamelles de Tirésias, Handel’s Ariodante and Mozart’s Così fan Tutte, Mitridate and Don Giovanni. The programme also features Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, Britten’s Albert Herring, Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann and concludes with excerpts from two Bellini operas – I Capuleti e I Montecchi and I Puritani – and Massenet’s Manon. This is a great way for anyone new to the artform to get a taster of several different operas: opera scenes are not a full-scale operatic production, but a programme of scenes from several different operas interwoven within a single concept to form a continuous performance. Opera scenes are performed with a pianist rather than an orchestra and aim to provide a more ‘immersive’ experience than is common with a full-scale operatic production.

Professor Barry Ife, Principal of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, said:

“The project will give our young singers a wonderful opportunity to communicate their art to a new audience and we hope that this will be the start of a regular exchange of artistic projects including bringing some classical Chinese opera to London. We are also talking about a contribution to Shanghai’s Shakespeare season next year – the fourth centenary. The year of China-UK cultural exchange is an excellent opportunity to improve mutual understanding of each nation’s artistic and performing traditions, and to find ways of developing those art forms for new audiences in the 21st century.”

About the Guildhall School

The Guildhall School of Music & Drama is one of the world’s leading conservatoires and drama schools, offering musicians, actors and theatre technicians an inspiring environment in which to develop as artists and professionals. Situated in the heart of the City of London, the School was rated No. 1 Music Institution in the Guardian University Guide 2014. Notable alumni include pianists Sa Chen, Chenyin Li and Paul Lewis, and singers Anne Sofie von Otter and Bryn Terfel CBE.

The Guildhall School’s Opera Studies course, which won the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2007, provides intensive postgraduate training for up to 24 singers and four student repetiteurs at any one time. It offers an advanced level of vocal training and operates at a professional level, presenting a range of productions, from opera scenes and chamber opera to three full-scale operas over the two years of study. Recent productions include Dvořák’s The Cunning Peasant, a double bill of Arne’s The Cooper and Stradella’s San Giovanni Battista, Jonathan Dove’s The Adventures of Pinocchio, Britten’s Owen Wingrave and Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. Dominic Wheeler is the Head of Opera Studies.

The Guildhall School has professional partnerships with many of the UK’s leading arts organisations, including the Royal Opera House, the Barbican Centre, the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Academy of Ancient Music.

In 2009, the Guildhall School and the Barbican hosted a successful UK-China arts and education forum, and the School will be co-ordinating a follow-up forum at the China Shanghai International Arts Festival in October. The 2009 forum led to a staff/student exchange with the Central Academy of Drama Beijing, and it is hoped that this year’s forum will produce further collaborations. The School also holds auditions in China each year for students considering studying at its campus in London.

The Guildhall School is provided by the City of London Corporation as part of its contribution to the cultural life of London and the UK.

The evolving ‘Cultural Hub’ currently includes the Guildhall School, the Barbican Arts Centre and the Guildhall Library and Art Gallery and Colisseum but will soon include a new, digitally accessible, ‘National Music Centre’ and concert hall and a new home for the Museum of London, all between the new Crossrail stations at Farringdon and Moorgate – and St Paul’s station, with the London Metropolitan Archives nearby.