This year is Surrey Opera’s 50th Anniversary!

It will come as no surprise that we have had to reluctantly cancel/postpone (maybe) the 50th Anniversary Soirée on 4th Apr. Much preparation has gone into this project and many soloists booked, so this is very sad for all of us, but we continue to prepare for Don Giovanni in the hope that the worst of the coronavirus crisis will have passed by the time we reach the May rehearsal period and the June and July performances – please keep dates in your diary!

We also hope that the Black Tie 50th Anniversary Dinner will still be able to take place on Thurs 18th June, but in these uncertain times we have to live from day to day and follow government advice, so will keep you posted as best we can.

In the meantime we thank you for your continuing support and hope that you and all our friends and Supporters stay fit and well.

In celebration of this significant milestone we will be performing Don Giovanni at St Mary Magdalene Church, 18 Canning Road, Croydon, CR0 6QD at 7.30pm on Friday, June 12th and Saturday, June 13th, together with a matinée at 2.30pm on the Saturday. We will also be taking the production to the Minack Theatre in Cornwall for the week July 13th to 17th.

Our Anniversary Dinner will be on Thursday 18th June, 2020.

In the last week of November the Company will be staging the World Première of David Hackbridge Johnson’s dramatic new opera Madeleine, based on the true story of Madeleine Hamilton Smith with a libretto sourced and written by Surrey Opera’s Artistic Director Jonathan Butcher. Performances will be at The Harlequin Theatre , Redhill on Thursday 26th to Saturday 28th Nov at 7.30pm, together with a matinée on the Saturday at 2.30pm.

Surrey Opera: Peter Grimes 2005

The photo above shows Jane Streeton as Ellen Orford and George Kendrick as John, The Apprentice, in our 2005 production of Peter Grimes. Back in 1984 we had also staged Peter Grimes. Jane Streeton has sung many roles for us over the years and has remained a loyal supporter of Surrey Opera, even when she has not been on stage with us!

George Kendrick was a pupil at Whitgift School, Croydon at the time of our 2005 production and, curiously, found himself standing next to the original Apprentice, from Britten’s première production, at our after ‘show’ Reception at The Harlequin, Redhill. The late Anthea Hall, our wonderful Administrator for so many years, was ‘fixing’ the orchestra for Grimes, when she found herself speaking to a trombonist, by the name of Steve Thompson, who said that he very much regretted not being able to play in our production, as his uncle, Leonard Thompson, had been Britten’s original Apprentice. Well, this was too good an opportunity to miss so I, of course, got in touch with Leonard and asked him if he would be able to attend one of our performances, which he duly did – but discreetly, as I didn’t want George to know. At the said Reception I asked Leonard to place himself subtly close to George and after saying a few, well deserved, thank yous to folk I asked George if he had any idea who might be standing next to him and, would you believe it, he guessed who it was. Leonard was, understandably, thrilled and so were we – i.e. that he had been able to join us and share a rather special moment. JB.

Surrey Opera: Marriage of Figaro 1971

The above photo, of SO’s second ever production (in 1971) of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro shows, from left to right, Andrew Glass as Count Almaviva, Frank Pigeon as Antonio (the Gardener), William Hamilton as Figaro, Rosemary Brown/Camden as Susanna and Janette Holt (now Ives) as the Countess. Rosemary’s husband Leighton Camden directed the production. He went on to direct several more productions for the Company and he also sang several leading roles for us. He was an excellent lyric tenor.

Many years later Leighton returned to Surrey Opera and, graciously, joined the ranks of the Chorus. Most notably in The Yeoman of the Guard. Leighton knew his G & S and was always great value.

This photo was given to us by Frank Pigeon’s daughter, who kindly gave me Frank’s complete album of the productions in which he had performed. His wife, Rosemary, was also a singer and sung the role of 2nd Lady in The Magic Flute – SO’s first opera in 1970. Without Frank’s album we might not have any photographic record of those early years of Surrey Opera.

Surrey Opera: Magic Flute 1970

Russell Smythe – Papageno - and Janette Holt (now Ives) – Pamina - singing the Duet from The Magic Flute. Surrey Opera’s (then called the Surrey Opera Group) first production at the Market Hall, Redhill, June 1970

It’s not too late to get your 50th Anniversary Calendar? Only one month gone but, anyway, it’s much more of a momento than your average Calendar!

They are of a very high quality with a photo from every production over the last 50 years – plus more! “A really special keepsake for anyone who has performed with Surrey Opera." If you have sung in a SO production in the past, the chances are that you are featured somewhere on the Calendar.

Please email – to order your copy and request payment details. There are still a few left and we’d hate anyone to miss out.

Cost for the first calendar is £8 now and for subsequent copies £6 each.

Postage costs – 2nd Class £3.00 or 1st Class £3.55 – plus the envelope – at 30p.

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Production Archive

The Barber of Seville


The Life To Come

A Midsummer Night's Dream




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