Christopher Webber

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Christopher Webber

Christopher Webber (born 27 May 1953) is an English actor, dramatist, theatre director, writer and music critic.


Webber was born in Bowdon, Cheshire (now Greater Manchester) and educated at The Manchester Grammar School and the University of Kent at Canterbury.[1] Starting his professional career with theatre directing work, for companies such as Orpheus Opera (of which he was Artistic Director 1980–87), Kent Opera, the new D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in Britain and the USA, and various other English companies, he soon broadened his portfolio to include musical journalism, as Opera and Classical Music Editor for Richard Branson's Event Magazine, as well as Music and Musicians Magazine.[2]

As a writer, his early work included Bluff Your Way at the Races (Ravette) as well as many opera translations into English. Play commissions soon followed, beginning with a new English version of Sophocles's Philoctetes written for Offstage Downstairs. Later successes include Tatyana commissioned by Nottingham Playhouse, with Josie Lawrence in the title role, and Beverly Klein as her sister Olga;[3] Dr Sullivan and Mr Gilbert (Mull Theatre,[4] revived at Glasgow Citizens' Theatre and on tour throughout Scotland[5]); and Green Tea, shortlisted for a Guinness Prize.

He is an authority on the Spanish zarzuela,[6] and his book The Zarzuela Companion (Scarecrow Press 2002, Foreword by Plácido Domingo) is a standard English work on the subject.[7] He contributed the chapter on zarzuela to The Cambridge Companion to Operetta (Cambridge University Press 2019);[8] has written on Hispanic and Portuguese Music for The Oxford Companion to Music, Opera Magazine,[9] Opera Now,[10] Royal Opera Covent Garden[11] and many other publications; has provided programme notes and translations for many concert and festival organisations including the New York Philharmonic Orchestra[12], Wexford Festival[13] and Edinburgh Festival;[14] and been Visiting Lecturer on the subject at various academic institutions, including the University of Tübingen[15] and University of Valencia.[16] For Oxford University Press's Bibliographies project, he wrote and curates the article on zarzuela (2016). He is also an advisory editor and contributor to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, having written many entries including those on his Manchester Grammar School contemporary Steven Pimlott,[17] and Joyce Hatto.[18] Webber has since been featured on British TV's Channel 4 and BBC Radio 4, in documentaries about Hatto, "the fraudster pianist".[19][20]

As an actor, he has worked in England's West End and Repertory Theatre, creating the role of Owl in the first stage version of Winnie-the-Pooh (London Royalty Theatre and national tour) and taking part in world and/or international premières of plays by Alan Ayckbourn[21] and Alan Bennett[22][23] amongst others. He has also been an exponent in the field of corporate and medical professional actor-based roleplaying, especially noted for his work on development of feedback techniques, including his formulation of Advocate Feedback.[24]


  • Philoctetes (1987, based on Sophocles)
  • Green Isle (1989)
  • Love and Politics (1990, based on Schiller's Kabale und Liebe)
  • Tatyana (1990)
  • Birth of an Opera, Death of a Composer (1990)
  • Green Tea (1993, rev. 2000) (Couthurst Press 2000, ISBN 1-902819-01-2)
  • Dr Sullivan and Mr Gilbert (1993) (Couthurst Press 2001, ISBN 1-902819-00-4)
  • Mozart and Salieri (1993, after Pushkin)
  • A Flower and a Kiss (commissioned Welsh National Opera, 1995)
  • The Girl with the Roses (1999, after Pablo Sorozábal's La del manojo de rosas)
  • The Stronger (2010, zarzuela after Strindberg, with Derek Barnes composer)



  1. ^ The Oxford Companion to Music (OUP, 2002 ed. Alison Latham; major contributors, biographical section)
  2. ^ Biographical profile, Opera Magazine (London, July 1992)
  3. ^ "Derek Barnes". Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  4. ^ Mull Theatre, July–September 1993
  5. ^ Glasgow Citizens Theatre May 1998, tour May–August 1998
  6. ^ País, Ediciones El (29 August 1999). "La zarzuela se hace inglesa · ELPAÍ". El País. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  7. ^ "New Zarzuela book, December 2002". Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  8. ^ ISBN 9781316856024,
  9. ^ most recent, Opera Magazine (London, September 2019; October 2019 et al.)
  10. ^ 'Say Hola to Zarzuela' (London, March 2013)
  11. ^ Plácido Domingo, Royal Opera House Gala, London February 1999
  12. ^ "New York Philharmonic: Plácido Domingo and the New York Philharmonic". Archived from the original on 6 April 2012. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  13. ^
  14. ^ "La verbena de la Paloma", Kings Theatre Edinburgh, August 1997
  15. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 March 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Congreso Internacional Ruperto Chapí". Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  17. ^ "Steven Pimlott". Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  18. ^ "Joyce Hatto". Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  19. ^ "The Great Piano Scam". Channel 4. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  20. ^ "Radio 4 Programmes – Who Was Joyce Hatto?". BBC. 21 September 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  21. ^ "Alan Ayckbourn Plays: A Word From Our Sponsor". 20 April 1995. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  22. ^ "Talking Heads", Mull Theatre (UK Repertory Premiere, June–September 1993)
  23. ^ "Talking Heads", English Theatre Berlin, January–March 2001
  24. ^ Andrew Baguley, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 January 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

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