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Iphigénie, priestess in Tauris believes her brother, Orestes, is dead. Not so…
See Iphigénie en Tauride with Opera Plus

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Welcome to Opera Plus

Northamptonshire's opera appreciation society

Are you curious about opera?

Are you already a fan, but would like to know more?

Or would you just like to indulge yourself once a week in the company of like-minded people?

Then come and join us in pleasant surroundings, led by a stimulating tutor, surrounded by a responsive audience, watching beautiful operas on the latest high tech equipment.

Whatever your level of knowledge, Opera Plus provides a unique opportunity to study some of the world's most beautiful operas in a relaxed and sociable setting, under the guidance of our knowledgeable and stimulating tutor.

We would love you to join us and share the experience of listening to and learning about opera. Please read on to find out more about what Opera Plus is and how to join.

David Wilkins

David Wilkins

Co-Founder &
Group Technical Support
Vibeke Romose

Vibeke Romose

Co-Founder
Noel Spencer

Noel Spencer

Group Technical Support
Margaret Edwards

Margaret Edwards

Group Organiser
Sandra Roberts

Sandra Roberts

Events Organiser
Graham Sloper

Graham Sloper

Website Co-ordinator

What is Opera Plus?

Opera Plus is a group of like-minded people, mainly from Northamptonshire, who are interested in opera and would like to know more. A tutor is employed to lead us through the intricacies of the music, libretti, staging and production of a wide range of operas together with information about composers, librettists and the social history in the time of the composers' lives.

Importantly, the members are fully involved in the running of the Group and the choice of operas to be studied, with some guidance from the tutor and dependent on the availability of suitable DVDs.

Opera DVDs are viewed on a large screen TV monitor with explanation, analysis, musical insights and interpretations from the tutor using a piano to illustrate the points of interest. No technical knowledge is necessary – just enthusiasm to listen to and learn more about opera.

A piano, large screen TV, DVD player and loudspeakers have been purchased by the Group to ensure a high quality viewing, clarity and listening experience. They are kept up to date as required.

The History of Opera Plus

The Group originated at The Leicester University Centre in Barrack Road, Northampton in the 1990s; moved to The Mounts in smaller premises in the 2002, and then in 2006 when the university dropped most local courses, Opera Plus was set up independently, through the energy in particular of David Wilkins, Vibeke Romose and the late Richard Fox at the Doddridge Centre with 15 members. Since then membership has grown to about 40.

What We Did 2017 / 2018

This year, as usual, we have studied three highly contrasting operas.

In the autumn, we watched Verdi's Don Carlos, a riveting production with an enlightening commentary from Phillip on the historical accuracy or otherwise of the depicted story as well as on the production and music.

In the spring we had the final instalment of Wagner's Ring, Gotterdammerung, when Phillip showered us with numerous motifs for us to try to recall at the appropriate time but, in spite of some failures in that respect, an amazing experience.

During the summer term we followed the background to Prokofiev's writing of his opera, the Love of Three Oranges and watched and studied a magnificently staged and sung production.

Finally to finish off the term, we watched Stravinsky's The Rakes Progress as a comparison with The Love of Three Oranges. In addition, a number of us went to a matinée in November in Milton Keynes of Glyndebourne Touring Opera's Cosi fan Tutti. Then in April 2018 we saw three Welsh National Opera productions, Puccini's Tosca, Mozart's Don Giovanni and Verdi's The Force of Destiny, also in Milton Keynes.

In October we organised a visit to Rome, primarily to see Tosca and visit the church of Sant'Andrea della Valle, the Palazzo Farnese and Castel Sant'Angelo, the settings for the three Acts of the opera.

Also in 2017, we ran a two-day trip in August to the Aldeburgh Proms where a number of us saw Renée Fleming performing Strauss' Four Last Songs with the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) at Snape which was a beautiful setting. Phillip sent flowers to Renée Fleming in appreciation of her performance. We also visited Britten's Red House with private access to the Archive where we were able to see some of Britten's original material. A lovely house and garden with beautiful paintings and many desirable objects. There was also a display of some of Peter Pears' and Benjamin Britten's letters which were very moving.

Membership was 43 for the Autumn and Spring Terms, and 42 for the Summer Term. It is especially good that we have an increase in new members this year and attendance at the ses-sions has been consistently high.

For the coming year we are basing charges on a minimum of 36 members and keeping the fee at £6.00 per session. We have managed to maintain a surplus over the year to cover any unexpected costs with an improved regular membership, but we need to maintain a surplus for equipment replacement and a possible fall in membership.

We have continued to keep our website (www.operaplus.net) up to date so that existing and potential new members can see what is happening and communicate with us. Recently we have updated the website to be compliant with new data protection regulations which came out this summer (2018).

Up and Coming Events

In 2018 / 19 we have another exciting and varied programme, starting in the autumn term with Alban Berg's Wozzeck, followed by Gluck's Alceste in the Spring Term and Rimsky-Korsakov's Le Coq d'or in the Summer.

In October, 21 members will be travelling to Berlin where there are five operas on offer including the Love of Three Oranges (see above) and Wosseck (see below). It will be a busy time with so much to experience in this beautiful city.

As usual we have also booked tickets to see the following operas at Milton Keynes:

27th November: GTO Verdi, La Traviata
28th November: GTO Massenet, Cendrillon
29th November: GTO Behind the scenes at La Traviata

Refreshment time for opera plus attendees

Time for Refreshments & a Chat

The Vienna State Opera

On the Balcony of the Vienna State Opera (Wiener Staatsoper)

Evening Tour of Vienna in the Fiaker

Opera Plus members visit Aldeburgh Proms and the Silk Road

Opera Plus visit to Aldeburgh 2017
(Renee Fleming performing Strauss' Four Last Songs with The London Philharmonic Orchestra)

Ready for the start of an opera plus class

Ready for the Start of the Session

Phillip, Tutor for Opera Plus, Northamptonshire

Phillip Tutoring Opera Plus Members in Prague

opera plus members in munich

Nymphenburg Palace – Group in Munich

Phillip Gilbert

Our Tutor : Phillip Gilbert.

Graduate of the Royal College of Music and Hull University

Phillip Gilbert is a widely experienced musician with a long history of work and coaching with many of the world's leading opera singers. A graduate of the Royal College of Music and Hull University, he has worked at Lausanne and Zurich, as assistant to Maestro Giovanni Veneri (Director of Studies at The Verdi Institute in Parma), Chorus Master and Senior Coach at Dublin Grand Opera and taught music and conducting at Trinity College. He was later Music Assistant to James Lockhart at the RCM Opera School. He now divides his time between coaching, conducting and lecturing.

How Much does it cost to Join Opera Plus?

£6 per session to be paid at beginning of the term.
2 hours per session + 15 minutes break - 10.00am to 12.15pm on Wednesdays

Interested new members are allowed one free taster session to make sure they are happy with what they find.

AUTUMN TERM 2018

14 weeks : £84.00
12th September to 12th December

SPRING TERM 2019

13 weeks : £78.00
16th January to 10th April

SUMMER TERM 2019

DURATION 8 weeks : £48.00
1st May to 19th June

Discounted Group Bookings

For Glyndebourne Touring Opera and the Welsh National Opera spring and autumn visits to Milton Keynes Theatre.

Conducted Opera Tours

In the last two years we have visited Vienna, Prague and Munich - these events organised by co-member and professional event organiser, Sandra Roberts.

Occasional Study Days

In summer we dedicate special days on a musical theme or piece of work.

Opera Plus Meeting Dates

2018 / 2019 Programme

Autumn Term 2018Alban Berg
Wozzeck

Spring Term 2019Christoph Gluck
Iphigénie en Tauride

Summer Term 2019Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Le Coq d'Or

Video Previews of Operas in our Programme

Berg

Wozzeck

Gluck

Iphigénie en Tauride

Rimsky-Korsakov

Le Coq d'Or

What people are saying about Opera Plus Email us to try a free taster session

 

Coming to Opera Plus transports me to high drama and stunning music with fascinating historical insights and excellent musical analysis.

I have always enjoyed opera but coming to the group has really broadened my understanding and allowed me to get to know operas that I would never have seen on my own.

My main pleasure is in being introduced to operas and composers and in being guided by Phillip to appreciate the construction and themes of the operas we study.

I really enjoy finding out about the historical background to an opera and learning about the life and philosophy of the composer.

It's good to meet up with other members of the group who have become friends and share the music together.

Coffee time is one of best bits. I like to catch up with everyone, hear what people have seen, what they think and what they recommend.

All are a delight to talk to and I learn a lot from other members.

One if the things I enjoy most, is when Phillip lectures from the piano and picks out bits explaining what the composer is doing.

I have found Phillip's insights absolutely fascinating - what he has to say is extremely interesting and illuminating.

Opera classes have been the highlight of my week.

It's good fun and comments from Phillip and the class often make me laugh.

"Opera is a beautiful and important diversion for me"

Luciano Pavarotti

Our Meeting Venue

The Doddridge Centre
109 St James Road
Northampton
NN5 5DL

More venue info: www.doddridgecentre.org.uk

Directions to Opera Plus via Google Maps
Meeting Times:
Wednesdays from 10.00am to 12.15pm
36 weeks of the year split into three terms
Parking and Refreshments:
Free parking
Refreshments available

Please get in touch with any queries

Click here to email Opera Plus

We'll do our best to get back to you within 6-8 working hours.

Alternatively, phone Graham on 01788 899 167 or Margaret on 07505 236 081