Classical Opera Company announces future plans

Opera News

8 March 2009

COC's production of ApolloOperatic rarities, exceptional recording projects and insight events are on the programme of the Classical Opera Company, one of the most interesting British groups, founded in 1997 by conductor Ian Page. The Company’s reputation has grown rapidly, and its artists are now widely recognized as being among the finest performers specializing in the Mozart repertoire and his contemporaries.

An overview of their forthcoming projects demonstrates their exceptional standard and innovation. A week devoted to Haydn’s work will start on Wednesday 11 March. The Company will propose a daily exploration of the composer in the year of the 200th anniversary of his death, in an attempt to trace a biographical and musical portrait. The programme includes Haydn's most significant symphonies together with highlights from the fifteen operas which he wrote between 1762 and 1783. The Haydn Week ends on 15 March and all the events will be performed at Kings Place, where the Company has its residency.

As for the Mozart repertoire, Mitridate, Re di Ponto is one of the highlights of the Company’s season. Written when Mozart was only 14, this opera will be performed at Sadler’s Wells for one performance only on 2 June and as a part of the Buxton Festival on 12, 20 and 24 July. This opera is a peculiar one: it was affected by numerous changes that the singers who first performed it imposed on young Mozart. The version that Company will offer is unique, since it reinstates Mozart’s seven surviving original settings for the first time within their dramatic context. In addition, the Company’s Mitridate will include numbers left unfinished, such as the duet at the end of the second act. The Company based part of their philological work on the late Mozart specialist Stanley Sadie’s study: he revised and orchestrated the unfinished parts so that they could be performed as the composer originally intended them.

These distinctive performances of Mitridate, directed by Martin Lloyd-Evans, feature Royal Opera Young Artist graduate Kishani Jayasinghe as Sifare, counter tenor Stephen Wallace as Farnace and tenor Mark Le Brocq as Mitridate. The Company’s founder and artistic director Ian Page will conduct its period-instrument orchestra.

The Classic Opera Company's recording plans are ambitious too. Their debut recording, The A-Z of Mozart Opera (June 2007) was widely acclaimed and was nominated as one of the picks of the year by Gramophone magazine. Following this success, the Company is now willing to embark on a long-term project that involves new releases at the rate of one per year, starting in Spring 2009. The first work to be presented on CD will be Mozart’s first opera, Apollo et Hyacinthus, of which there are no period-instrument recordings. The Company is familiar with this piece as it successfully performed it 1998 and in 2006.

Aware of the musical significance of this work, the Company strongly wants to pursue this recording project, which is also a financial challenge. For this reason, they are asking art-lovers to contribute in order to raise the £30K needed to perform and record this Mozart’s rarity.

Aside from the Mitridate recording, the Classical Opera Company will take on another ambitious task in the immediate future. This involves the restoration of Zaide, an opera by Mozart whose peculiarities are especially challenging. In fact, Zaide is the only opera that the composer wrote with no commission; yet, he left score and plot incomplete as he started working on other paid pieces. The Company's purpose is to undertake a full completion of this unfinished work, in order to broaden the horizon of the Mozart repertoire and to propose this rarity to an audience as wide as possible.

The Company aims to complete this project in 2010 and is seeking the support of donors so that they can be able to carry on research and work needed for such a complex task. Those able to contribute will be involved in first person in the restoration process of Zaide.

It is evident that the Classical Opera Company's projects are artistically challenging and important. Moreover, the Company is also able to offer a touch of newness to the operatic world, conjugating philological accuracy with musical excellence – as their future plans demonstrate.

by Marina Romani

For further information and full programme details, visit

Benefits of supporting the recording project include acknowledgement in the booklet of the CD, 10 complimentary copies of the CD, and a discount on further copies, the opportunity to attend a recording session and an invitation to the CD launch party. It is possible to contribute by contacting Zoë Cobden-Jewitt on 020 7844 4440 or email .

Opportunities offered to members of the Zaide completion project include a pre-rehearsal dinner with Ian Page and company members to discuss the pre-production process and outline the artistic goals for the project; regular opportunities to attend music and production rehearsals, and chances to discuss the development of the piece with the artists; a meeting with the director and designer; an invitation to the dress rehearsal; accreditation in the programme and related literature (if desired); and 10 free tickets to the London performance, with invitations to interval drinks. Further information on the Company’s version of Zaide can be found here.

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