About Kentish Opera


A message from our Patron David Parry, the internationally acclaimed conductor:

I am delighted and honoured to become Kentish Opera's patron. It is no exaggeration to say that, without Kentish Opera, I would have had no career. Sally Langford's beloved late mother, the energetic and determined Audrey Langford, decided that I would be a conductor and inveigled Sally into accepting me as music director pretty well unseen. I was thrown into a production of La traviata never having conducted an orchestra, let alone an opera.

My blood runs cold to think of my innocent fearlessness now; but even colder to think what I would have lost had I not been so forcefully thrust on to the podium.

My story is typical of the invaluable work Kentish Opera does to encourage and foster young talent. There are so few opportunities for young singers to try roles out, to test themselves and discover their strengths and their limitations. Sally is a first-rate director and, like all expert directors, a great teacher. The singers are cared for and nurtured. The company is a huge asset to the world of professional opera.

At the same time, the company provides an immensely satisfying outlet for the expert amateur, particularly for the rich seam of excellent amateur singers who make up the chorus. This coming together of the young professional and the seasoned amateur worlds, of young hope and honed enthusiasm, is of great benefit and delight to both sides. The members of the wider community feel part of the artistic process and gain possession of it, rather than acting simply as bystanders. And the young artists truly learn to know the men and women who support them and cheer them on, the very people for whose future delight they are developing their talents.
Last but by no means least, the company provides wonderfully enjoyable performances of great operas in a part of London which otherwise would not enjoy such things. What a great privilege for North West Kent that is!



What is Kentish Opera?

Kentish Opera fulfils an important role in the operatic life of this country by providing a vital opportunity for young professional singers to gain experience in performing major operatic roles. The production team has the collective experience and expertise to ensure that every production is of extremely high quality.

Thus Kentish Opera is responsible for bringing consistently good productions to the South East, while at the same time helping many young singers to establish themselves with major professional companies.

Kentish Opera is a pro/am opera company, founded in 1953, that stages a wide range of operas giving 4 to 6 performances generally twice a year in the Kent areas of Bromley, Sevenoaks and Tonbridge. It is a registered Charity (No. 1035615) and Company Limited by Guarantee (No. 2864170). The company is professional other than the highly trained amateur chorus and the many volunteers who help behind the scenes.



What Makes Kentish Opera Unique?

We believe there is (probably!) no other company in the UK (other than the major companies heavily supported by the Arts Council) that mounts such large scale productions e.g. chorus of up to 50 members, orchestra of some 30 players, impressive sets and costumes. This is a result of having a very talented, dedicated and high quality production team who have been working together for over twenty years.



Objectives

Our main objective is to produce operas to the highest professional standards in a basically traditional manner, very much trying to faithfully interpret the composers' intentions. A further objective is to give young up-and-coming singers the opportunity to perform and develop in a professional environment. Some of the many artists who have sung with Kentish Opera and gone on to have successful careers are listed in the Artists' Roster section. From time to time we wish to mount operas that are not necessarily the most popular in order to widen the taste and experience of our audience.




Beginnings

In 1951 Audrey Langford ( a renown local singer) was asked to put on an opera as part of Bromley's contribution to the Festival of Britain celebrations. She joined forces with Ande Anderson, who was a director at the Royal Opera House, and they staged Cosi fan tutte at the Convent, Bromley, with a cast drawn from her pupils and other young singers. This was such a success that they founded Kentish Opera in 1953 and produced The Marriage of Figaro the following year. Josephine Veasey (who was to become a leading mezzo-soprano at the Royal Opera House) was Cherubino in this production and Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte. Later Sir Geraint Evans became President and then Audrey until her death in 1994. New generations of conductors, designers and directors have continued to ensure that we maintain the high standards set by our founders.


 Audrey Langford

 Ande Anderson


Current Production Team


Artists' Roster

 Conductors have included:
 Mark Fitz-Gerald
  Mark has been associated with KO since 1986
 Stephen Harris
   (Chorus Master at ENO, Welsh National Opera)
 James Holmes
   (Opera North, ENO)  
 Alex Ingram
   (ENO)  
 Audrey Langford
  (International singing teacher and principal
singer at the Royal Opera House)
 James Morgan
   (ENO ,Glyndebourne Opera)  
 David Parry
   (ENO, Opera North etc)  
 Mark Shanahan
   (ENO)  
 Paul Wyn-Griffiths
   (Royal Opera House)  
     
 Directors have included:
 Ande Anderson
   (Director of Productions, Royal Opera House)
 John Copley
   (ENO, Australian Opera, Royal Opera House)
 Colin Graham
   (ENO, Opera North, Royal Opera House)
 Christopher West
   (Royal Opera House)  
     
 Singers have included:
 Royal Opera House:
   Julian Close  
   Anthony Cunningham  
   Paul Hodges  
   Kishani Jayasinghe  
   Gaynor Keeble  
   Josephine Veasey  
     
 ENO:    
   Fiona Canfield  
   Gary Coward  
   David Hillman  
   Paul Hodges  
   Charles Johnstone  
   Janis Kelly  
   David Newman  
   Paul Napier-Burrows  
   Philip O'Brien  
   Anton Rich  
   Richard Roberts  
   Anne Welch  
   Graham Stone