University College Opera

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University College Opera
UCL Bloomsbury Theatre.jpg
The Bloomsbury Theatre
University College Opera's main performance venue
Abbreviation UCOpera
Formation 1951
Type Student opera company
Parent organization
University College London Union
Affiliations UCL Union Symphony Orchestra
UCL Union Symphony Chorus

University College Opera, or UCOpera, is the student opera company of University College London.The operas are staged by professional singers, directors and designers, with the orchestra and chorus drawn from the student body.[1] Founded in 1951, UCOpera is known for its productions of rarely performed operas, including 3 world premières, and 17 British premières. On 10 March 2008 UCOpera staged the UK premiere of Édouard Lalo's Fiesque, at the Bloomsbury Theatre.[2] 2009 saw another British première, Ernest Bloch's Macbeth.[3]


The brainchild of the conductor Anthony Addison, (UCL's then Director of Music), University College Opera gave its first performance in 1951 with an all-student production of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, followed by Mozart's Bastien und Bastienne. Even in its earliest years, the company's annual repertoire concentrated on rarely performed operas including: Nicolai's The Merry Wives of Windsor (1952), Bizet's Don Procopio (1955) and Lortzing's Der Wildschütz (1958). In 1961, the company staged its first UK premiere, Moniuszko's Halka.

During its first 17 years, UCOpera's performances took place in the old gymnasium at University College. With the opening of the college's Bloomsbury Theatre in 1968, the company finally acquired a suitable venue for its productions. Under the directorship of George Badacsonyi who served from 1963 to 1976, UCOpera increasingly employed professional opera singers (often in the early stages of their careers) to sing the solo roles, with students making up the chorus and orchestra. Amongst the professional singers who have appeared with the company are Felicity Lott (who is now the patron of Friends of UCOpera), Robert Lloyd, Jonathan Summers, and Julian Gavin. The company's productions also became more ambitious with a series of UK and world premieres including: Wagner's Das Liebesverbot (1965); Haydn's Die Feuersbrunst (1966); Erkel's Bánk bán (1968); and Verdi's Alzira (1970).

A highlight for the company under the directorship of David Drummond (who served from 1992 to 2001) was UCOpera's world premiere staging of César Franck's Hulda in its complete form. The 1994 production used a score which Drummond restored from the composer's original manuscript.[4] Drummond's last performance as the company's Director coincided with its 50th anniversary, the 2001 UK premiere of Aulis Sallinen's Kullervo.[5]

Under the directorship of Charles Peebles UCOpera has produced British premieres of Hahn's Ciboulette, Dvorak's Vanda and Lalo's Fiesque. In 2012 UCOpera produced the first staging of Rameau's Acante et Céphise since the 18th century.

Productions 2001 to 2016[edit]

Year Production [6] Composer Conductor Director
2016 La favorite [7] Gaetano Donizetti Charles Peebles John Ramster
2015 Amadis de Gaule [8][9][10] Johann Christian Bach Charles Peebles Jack Furness
2014 The Snowmaiden Rimsky-Korsakov Charles Peebles Christopher Cowell
2013 I Lombardi Verdi Charles Peebles Jamie Hayes
2012 Acante et Céphise* Rameau Charles Peebles Christopher Cowell
2011 The Three Pintos (Die Drei Pintos) Weber/Mahler Charles Peebles John Ramster
2010 Genoveva Schumann Charles Peebles Emma Rivlin
2009 Macbeth* Bloch Charles Peebles John Ramster
2008 Fiesque* Lalo Charles Peebles Emma Rivlin
2007 Camacho's Wedding Mendelssohn Charles Peebles Duncan Macfarland
2006 Alfonso und Estrella Schubert Charles Peebles Stephen Barlow
2005 Whittington Offenbach Charles Peebles Jamie Hayes
2004 Vanda* Dvořák Charles Peebles Matthias Janser
2003 Ciboulette* Hahn Charles Peebles Daniele Guerra
2002 Benvenuto Cellini Berlioz Charles Peebles Jamie Hayes
2001 Kullervo* Sallinen David Drummond Paul Curran

(* denotes British premières)


  1. ^ Maycock (24 March 1995)
  2. ^ Hall (12 March 2008)
  3. ^ Elleson (March 2009)
  4. ^ Maycock (24 March 1994)
  5. ^ Kimberley (March 29, 2001)
  6. ^ Full list of UCOpera previous productions
  7. ^ The Telegraph
  8. ^ Fringe Opera - Online guide to opera in alternative venues
  9. ^ Operabase listing
  10. ^ London Evening Standard - What's on

External links[edit]