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The Origins of Surrey Opera

Surrey Opera was founded by the late Joyce Hooper MBE in 1969. In June 1970, she embarked upon the most ambitious project of her career, staging the Mozart operas, starting with the Magic Flute in Redhill's Market Hall. Surrey Opera was born.

This first production was a great success. Russell Smythe, who played Papageno, went on to the Guildhall School of Music and subsequently to a successful professional career, singing at Covent Garden and with the English and Welsh National Opera companies. With the financial success of this first opera, all the Mozart operas followed together with Beethoven's Fidelio, for which a tenor, Martin Cutze, was prepared to travel all the way from Germany to sing Florestan.

Realising, in 1976, that she would like a younger conductor to take over, Joyce heard of a brilliant young musician who was conducting The Marriage of Figaro at Blindley Heath. She handed over the baton to Jonathan Butcher, the present Artistic Director, who has continued so remarkably what Joyce Hooper started.