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Photo: Ken Howard / Metropolitan Opera, Photographer

Scheming Iago sets Otello on path of suspicion,
but what of poor, innocent Desdemona?
Perfect, gripping opera…

See Verdi's masterpiece 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 2018 / 2019

Once again we enjoyed three very different operas this year.

We started this year with a considerable jolt to our sensibilities in the form of Wozzeck by Alban Berg. Phillip introduced it to us by showing a film of the story which was quite disturbing and then we were into the opera itself. Most stayed the course and I feel were rewarded a hundredfold. Some were lucky enough to see a live performance in Berlin.

Next came a leap back in time to Gluck and two of his operas, Iphigenia in Tauris and Iphigenia in Aulis with two different versions of each. This was fascinating and revealing in terms of how different productions can enhance and clarify aspects of the opera. To finish the term we watched Alceste as a final flourish of Gluck - I don't think many of us had seen a Gluck opera before and found the music and productions enchanting, although, at times the story line was a bit confusing.

Finally, for the summer term, we were introduced to Le-Coq-d'Or by Rimsky Korsakov, a highly improbable fable based on a folk tale by Alexander Pushkin with an equally improbable Tsar in St Petersburg having to cope with his enemies, his own army and a very seductive Queen of Shebakha. The Cockerel attempts to assist the Tsar by crowing each time he is in danger. Lots of motifs representing the different characters and lots of fun.

During the year there have been opportunities to attend operas at Milton Keynes Theatre at a reduced fee. In November, Glyndebourne Touring Opera (GTO) produced la Traviata and Cendrillon, together with a "Behind the Curtain" extract of Traviata. In March Welsh national Opera (WNO) showed Un Ballo in Maschera, Roberto Devereux and The Magic Flute.

The trip to Berlin in October was a success, in particular, as two of the operas we have studied recently were being performed during our stay; Wozzeck and The Love of Three Oranges.

We have continued to keep our website up to date so that members and those interested in joining can see what we do and what is coming up during the year.

Membership was 45 for the Autumn Term, 41 for the Spring Term and 39 for the Summer.

Up and Coming Events

In 2019 / 20 we have another exciting programme, which include Verdi's Otello, Britten's Death in Venice and Shostakovich' The Nose.

This year we are not running trips to Milton Keynes for the Welsh National Opera but members can book tickets themselves.
The programme is:

Carmen: Wednesday 1st April and Friday 3rd April 2020
The Marriage of Figaro: Thursday 2nd April 2020
Les Vêpres Siciliennes: Saturday 4th April 2020

A trip to the Aldeburgh Proms has been arranged at the end of August to see and hear the Aurora Orchestra and Nicola Benedetti playing Bruch's Violin concerto No 1 and Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique.

Plans are in hand for a trip to Venice in December where the group will see Don Carlo at La Fenice Opera House. A great opportunity to see top class opera at one of Europe's leading theatres.

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 2019

13 weeks : £78.00
18th September to 11th December

SPRING TERM 2020

13 weeks : £78.00
15th January to 8th April

SUMMER TERM 2020

DURATION 9 weeks : £54.00
6th May to 1st July

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

2019 / 2020 Programme

Autumn Term 2019Guiseppe Verdi
Otello

Spring Term 2020Benjamin Britten
Death In Venice

Summer Term 2020Dmitri Shostakovich
The Nose

Video Previews of Operas in our Programme

Guiseppe Verdi

Otello

Benjamin Britten

Death in Venice

Dmitri Shostakovich

The Nose

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