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The Lecture Room at Sketch, London

On New Year’s Eve London Festival Opera dovetailed celebrated opera arias with the exceptional feast served in the Lecture Room at Sketch.  Sketch is an amazing complex within the original Georgian town house on Conduit Street, and was built in 1779 by James Wyatt. Formerly it hosted the HQ of suffragette movements in the early 20th century and was then the workshop of Christian Dior.  In the late 90s it caught the eye of Mazouz and since 2023 has been owned by Mazouz.  It has 5 highly decorated ‘fantasy’ eateries, including 3 restaurants in the building: the Parlour, the Lecture Room & Library, the Glade, the Gallery, and the Eastbar & Pods. The Lecture Room & Library holds 3 Michelin stars.

People love the element of surprise that ‘Singing Waiters’ can create. The scenario can be very simple: guests are assembled for drinks or enjoying a meal, after the clink of a glass, a tenor in magnificent voice bursts into a celebrated operatic aria. He can then be joined by a soprano soloist (and for larger events a mezzo-soprano and baritone) for extra impact and variety of repertoire. The programme can include well-known operatic arias, other pieces from the world of the operetta and musicals. London Festival Opera works with a client to create the perfect programme and include special requests of course. We can even end with an operatic ‘Happy Birthday’!

London Festival Opera presented a surprise Opera Gala in the magnificent setting of one of the member’s intimate Dining Rooms in The Palace of Westminster. It was impossible to have a piano so, once again, our orchestral backing tracks provided the perfect solution and made the musical entertainment possible. A cast of four superb opera singers treated the assembles guests to a programme featuring arias and ensembles from the operas of Handel, Mozart, Verdi and Puccini – the evening ended with an operatic ‘Happy Birthday’ for the special occasion. Entry into the Palace was through the great and historic Westminster Hall – what an entrance!

Opera always needs an accompaniment. With some venues it is impossible to have a piano, and it’s here that orchestral backing tracks can provide an excellent solution. Hiring a good piano can be very expensive too! The performance you are planning may be in a garden or other unusual setting, and we have our own amplification equipment making it possible to present an opera performance literally anywhere. Whether it is in a pod on the London Eye, on the terrace of a country garden, in your drawing room at home, or as a surprise burst of opera in a hotel lobby – orchestral backing tracks work a treat!

Opera could be the perfect entertainment your Christmas Party, whether a private, corporate or charity event. London Festival Opera works with a client to create the perfect programme combining celebrated opera and operetta and hits from musicals. The company specialises in programmes of passion, drama, humour and audience interaction. What better way to end a party than all singing a well-known Christmas carol together? People love to sing and join the soloists in a rousing vocal finale to the evening.

Pretty Woman A Night at the Opera

London Festival Opera is presenting a new programme – ‘A Night at the Movies’.

Opera is known for its ability to evoke intense emotions. By featuring opera in films, directors can tap into the emotional power of the music and performances to deepen the audience’s connection with the characters and their stories. The soaring melodies and passionate singing can evoke a wide range of emotions, adding an extra layer of emotional depth to the film. Classic movies such as ‘Pretty Woman’, ‘A Room with a view’, ‘Fatal Attraction’, ‘Mission Impossible’, ‘Gallipoli’, ‘The Father’, ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’, ‘Philadelphia’, ‘Shawshank Redemption’, ‘Quartet’, ‘Atonement’, ‘Godfather III’, ‘Mrs Doubtfire’ and ‘Mr Bean’s Holiday’ all feature some of the greatest opera ever written.

Can opera singers sing songs from musicals? The short answer is a resounding yes, but in our experience it’s important to select the right musicals and the right singers.

Some shows like ‘West Side Story’, all the musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein, ‘Porgy and Bess’, plus many of the works of Sondheim and Lloyd Webber can all work wonderfully, particularly if the singers can loosen their vocal production a little and ‘speak’ to the audience. But this repertoire can be thrilling when the opera singers open up with full throttle – the tenor singing ‘Maria’ for instance, or the ensemble ‘Do you hear the people sing’ from ‘Les Miserables’. Wonderful repertoire!!

Opera singers cannot really do justice to musicals that have more of a jazz concept, such as ‘Chicago’, or a Heavy Rock inspiration. If they did, it may well sound comical – but that could be fun too! French and Saunders’ version of ‘I should be so lucky’ is truly hilarious and inspired us to include some pop songs from time to time including operatic versions of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘Rock around the clock’ and ‘Delilah’. This can create an unexpected and powerful encore in a conventional opera programme!

We return to the magnificent Goldsmiths’ Hall in London later in the Spring for ‘A Night at the Musicals’. This is one of our favourite venues.  Our pianist is always particularly keen as the Hall has a superb grand piano!

We were honoured to perform for a very distinguished audience in the magnificent setting of Kirtlington Park, Oxfordshire on Saturday evening.  London Festival Opera presented ‘A Christmas Night at the Opera’ in the 18th Century Saloon of the house for a sell-out performance.  The audience joined in a Gilbert and Sullivan chorus which prepared them perfectly to sing an absolutely rousing rendition of ‘Good King Wenceslas’, proving joyfully that people do love to sing!

The evening was in aid of the wonderful charity, Medical Detection Dogs, which trains dogs to detect the odour of human disease.  The charity is at the forefront of the research into the fight against cancer and helping people with life-threatening diseases.  In addition to this extraordinary work the charity also trains Medical Alert Assistance Dogs to live with individuals who have complex health conditions.  Using their amazing sense of smell, the dogs are trained to identify the minute odour changes emitted prior to a medical emergency and then alert the person to take preventative action.  This can help to prevent 999 calls and hospital admissions, giving these people and their families greater confidence and independence. 

Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall is Patron of the Charity and gave her blessing to the fundraising evening in a letter printed in the programme.  Her Royal Highness wrote: ‘As the proud Patron I would like to send you all my very best wishes for a wonderful evening of opera. …. By translating their research into reality, this charity could save many thousands of lives.’

It was an honour to be invited to help raise funds for such a worthy cause in the breath-taking setting of Kirtlington Park. 

Charity Fundraising Event

Fundraising in times of financial hardship and political uncertainty is tough, no matter how worthy the cause.  Charities now, even more than ever, need to find new, innovative ways to catch the attention of potential donors and to bring them into a ‘feel-good’ setting, where spirits can be raised as well as funds!

Traditionally, large-scale charitable fundraising has often been aimed at a luxury market; drawing perhaps from a relatively small group of donors, albeit one with all the right resources!  Increasingly, however, charities are looking to broaden their base of regular donors to include a new and larger demographic.  What better way could there be to attract a new crowd into the concept of generous and regular giving than by treating them to a spectacular event which offers a touch of luxury, something with a real ‘Wow!’ factor?

Opera can often be perceived to be a serious and heavy art form, one with which you need to be familiar in order to enjoy it.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  A gala dinner (for instance) with entertainment by London Festival Opera includes many of the best-known arias so will appeal equally to newcomers and seasoned opera lovers alike.  It will provide a sophisticated but lively and fun evening, full of drama, passion, humour and interaction with guests.  Who could fail to feel flattered to receive the attentions of Carmen as she serenades a male guest with a red rose during her infamous Habanera aria?  Or indeed, have their adrenalin levels raised by The Barber of Seville approaching them with a large and shiny blade?!  All this combined with the thrill of hearing at close range the human voice in its most refined form is an unbeatable combination.

London Festival Opera have been involved with charity fundraising events for many years, having been the vehicle for raising many hundreds of thousands of pounds for a wide range of charities, including the British Red Cross, Animal Health Trust, The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, Tusk, Cancer Research, Mencap, Barnardo’s and Tommy’s Campaign.  Venues have ranged from London Livery Halls to private country houses, including theatres, concert halls, schools and Royal Palaces along the way.  We have many years of experience creating bespoke programmes for charity events, so please do feel free to contact us if you are considering organising a special event and would appreciate advice on how best to entertain your guests for maximum effect.  As well as advice on the type of programme which would be most suitable for your cause we can also advise on sponsorship ideas which have worked and helped charities raise funds in the past.

If guests leave a fundraising event without having had their emotions heightened, their passions aroused, or their laughter muscles exercised they are more likely to leave with money still in their pockets.  If you move them with excitement, passion, laughter and tragedy all in the space of an hour, having set those emotions to some of the greatest and most rousing music ever written, you’re on to a winner.

Please contact:  Philip Blake-Jones on +44 (0) 207 223 5456 or 07802 182847

philip@londonfestivalopera.co.uk

www.londonfestivalopera.co.uk