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NCO Studio Friday Recital Series, 1.15 pm, new College Ante-chapel

Welcome to the New Chamber Opera Studio Recital Series which is held on Fridays at 1.15 pm during term time in New College Ante-Chapel. The recital series has been running since 1994 and offers singers across the University and beyond the opportunity to perform a short programme in a relaxed atmosphere.

We are pleased to announce that New College is once again open, and that the recital series is back in person.

Week 2            22 October
Theo Nesbitt
Week 3            29 October
Colin Danskin
Week 4            5 November
Maryam Wocial
Week 5            12 November
Austin Haynes
Week 6            19 November
Sternberg Consort
Week 7            26 November
Melissa Talbot
Week 8            3 December
Matt Pope

Week 2
22 October
Theo Nisbett, with Dónal McCann
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Week 3
29 October
Colin Danskin, with Dónal McCann
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Livestream Link

Week 4
5 November
Maryam Wocial, with Dónal McCann
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Livestream Link

Week 5
12 November
Austin Haynes with Luke Mitchell
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Week 7
26 November
Jessica Edgar with Luke Mitchell
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Week 8
3 December
Matt Pope, with Dónal McCann
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Livestream Link

Visiting Professors of Opera 2020-21

Photo © Robert Workman

Laurence Cummings
Visiting Professor of Opera

Laurence is an acclaimed conductor, harpsichordist and is the William Crotch Professor of Historical Performance at the Royal Academy of Music; he has been Musical Director of the London Handel Festival since 1999. More information:

Events are free and are listed here:

Todd Rosenberg for Ravinia Festival

James Conlon
Humanitas Visiting Professor of Voice and Classical Music

Principal Conductor since 2006 of Los Angeles Opera and the Principal Conductor since 2016 of the RAI National Symphony Orchestra in Torino, Italy, James Conlon one of today’s most versatile and respected conductors. More information:

Events are free and are listed here:

Haydn: La vera costanza

An 18th Century Season

New College Ante-Chapel, New College
7 and 8 February 2020, 8.00pm


Haydn’s riotous comedy, La vera Costanza, The True Constant, was one of the composer’s early works for the theatre at Eszterhaza, the summer palace of his patron, from 1762, Nikolaus I, Prince Esterhazy. The opera was first performed on 25 April 1779 and was later revived there in 1785. The version of the work we have today is a reconstruction for the 1785 revival; a fire destroyed the theatre in late 1779, and with it were lost the performing materials and scores for some of Haydn’s operas. The composer subsequently reconstructed a number of them – including the much-loved Il mondo della luna – from sketches and from memory.

Haydn’s opening storm sequence which begins in the overture, sees Baroness Irene, Ernesto, Lisetta, and Villotto rescued from a shipwreck by Rosina and Masino. Count Errico, whom she hopes to dissuade from marrying the fisherwoman Rosina. But – and not unusually for the 18th century – we discover that the Count has ALREADY married (and abandoned) Rosina, who has had child by him. Neither the Count nor the Baroness and her retinue know of the child’s existence. The Baroness is promoting Villotto as a possible husband for Rosina, an impossibility that descends into farce, when the Count suddenly appears, threatening to kill his rival with a pistol. And so the opera proceeds, with Ernesto threatening Masino with a dagger, and other probable – and improbable – incidents!

Conductor: Joseph Beesley
Assistant conductor: Toby Stanford
Director: Michael Burden

Rosina: Aine Smith
Baroness Irene: Laura Coppinger
Lisetta: Maryam Wocial
Count Errico: Richard Douglas
Marquis Ernesto: James Gant
Masino: Dominic Spencer Jolly
Villotto: Filippo Turkheimer


An 18th Century Season

New College Chapel, New College
7 March 2020, 8.30pm

The mythological narrative of Acis and Galatea was a subject of continual fascination for Handel. Extant sources attest to at least three distinct renditions, including the contemporary favourite, Acis and Galatea, which had its London premiere in 1718. A consequence of the lasting popularity of the London version is that Handel’s other settings have been consigned to obscurity. New Chamber Opera attempts to correct this imbalance. For one night only, we will give a concert performance of his 1708 setting, Aci, Galatea, e Polifemo, in the tranquil environs of the chapel of New College. Aci brims with the confidence of a composer cognisant of his capabilities and displays a range of operatic devices that became central to the Handel’s mature operatic style: bravura arias are interspersed with cantabile reflections; doleful continuo-accompanied numbers are contrasted with full-textured, magisterial entries and exits; and textural choice becomes as much a signifier of affect as musical content. Handel evidently realised his precocity, choosing to use it for concert performance in 1732.

Aci, Galatea, e Polifemo offers a unique setting of the familiar Acis narrative – one that certainly deserves both performative and critical attention.

Cimarosa: The Secret Marriage

JdP Music Building, St Hilda’s College
1 and 2 November 2019, 8.00pm


The only opera in history to have been entirely encored at its first performance, The Secret Marriage (Il matrimonio segreto) tells the story of Carolina, secretly married to her father’s secretary Paulino. Her father is trying to marry Carolina’s sister, Elisetta, to one Count Robinson, but his plans have been derailed; the Count only wants to marry Carolina. Meanwhile, Carolina’s and Elisetta’s Aunt Fidalma has fallen in love with Paulino, providing yet another complication… the libretto, by Bertati, is based on an English comedy by George Coleman, and set by Cimarosa, one of the most prolific and capable opera composers of the late 18th century. It was first staged on 7 February 1792.

Conductor: Joseph Beesley
Assistant conductor: Toby Stanford
Director: Michael Burden

Carolina: Margaret Lingas
Elisetta: Emily Brown Gibson
Fidalma: Stephanie Franklin
Paulino: Richard Douglas
Count Robinson: Tom McGowan
Geronimo: Chris Murphy

Intimate Virtuosity: Bach and Couperin for solo keyboard and voice

New College Chapel
20 November 2019

Madeline Claire de Berrie, soprano
Georgie Malcolm, soprano
Filippo Turkheimer, bass
Anhad Arora, harpsichord and director


“Brashness and grace vie side-by-side for one evening as New Chamber Opera interpret two pillars of the High Baroque”

J.S. Bach’s virtuosic cantata for solo voice and harpsichord, ‘Amore Traditore’, and Louis Couperin’s magnificent ‘Lecons de Tenebres’ are seemingly at opposite ends of the affective spectrum. Bach’s zany cantata, consisting of 3 explosive movements of musical vitriol against the treachery of love, contrasts deeply with Couperin’s noble lament to a lost Jerusalem. But these two chamber works participate in a tradition of what can be termed as ‘intimate virtuosity’. Both the ‘Lecons’and ‘Amore Traditore’ are scored simply – for continuo and voice – removing the powerful, connotative force of the orchestra in favour of an intimate grandeur that only continuo harpsichord and its bowed and plucked associates can evoke. The two compositions can be seen as affective complements offering two stunningly different conceptions of intimate lamentation.

Director Anhad Arora

Handel: Il pastor fido

The Summer Opera
3 (Preview)/6/9/10/12/13 July 2019

Conductor – Steven Devine; Director – Michael Burden

In a new English translation by Simon Rees

Amarilli – Barbara Cole Walton
Dorida – Indyana Schneider
Eurilla – Gwendolen Martin
Mirtillo – Kate Semmens
Silvio – Mark Chambers
Trieno – Patrick Keefe

The Evening’s Events
6.00pm: Drink in the Cloisters
6.30pm: Opera Part I, The Warden’s Garden
Picnic Interval in the Cloisters (approximately 90 minutes)
9.00pm: Opera Part II, The Warden’s Garden
10.00pm: Curtain

More on Tickets

More on Il pastor fido

Arcadia (with balloon)… in the Warden’s Garden


Wednesday 3 (Preview) & Tuesday 9
New Chamber Opera

Book online at or download the booking form here.

Tickets are also available from the following organisations

Saturday 6 & Friday 12
Tickets: New College Development Office (01865) 279 337

Tuesday 9
Tickets: OXPIP (01865) 778 034

Wednesday 10
Tickets: Friends of the Oxford Botanic Garden: 07472 365001

Saturday 13
Tickets: Friends of WNO 01844 237551Mobile: 07813907466

Arcadia… as imagined

Il pastor fido

Amarilli, a shepherdess, in love with Mirtillo
Dorinda, a shepherdess, in love with Silvio
Eurilla, a shepherdess, in love with Mirtillo
Mirtillo, a shepherd, in love with Amarilli
Silvio, a hunter, in love with hunting, and eventually, with Dorinda
Tirenio, a High Priest of Diana

Set in Arcadia, the background to the plot of Handel’s pastoral opera Il pastor fido is that Diana, virgin huntress goddess, has become displeased with Arcadia and has let it be known that only through the marriage of a couple descended from heavenly ancestors, one of whom will be ‘a faithful shepherd,’ will her wrath be appeased; Silvio and Amarilli are designated the ‘happy couple,’ to everyone’s consternation. The three shepherdesses spend the opera pursuing the objects of their desire. Amarilli is in love with Mirtillo (who loves her in return) but is destined for Silvio. Eurilla is also in love with Mirtillo (who does not return her love), and tries to undermine Amarilli. Dorinda in is love with Silvio (who does not return her love until he almost kills her with a spear while hunting).

The first Eurilla, Margherita de l’Épine

The opera was Handel’s second one for London; the first, Rinaldo, had been a brilliant success, and the audience was taken aback at this short and understated work. It achieved only a few performances, but it was twice revived in 1734 first with added choruses, and then with added dances, it was more popular, achieving a total of some 14 performances. The two versions represent two phases of Handel’s opera career; the first, his early years in the capital when both he and Italian opera were still finding their feet in the city, and the second, his years as an opera promoter, when he faced competition from the Opera of the Nobility, competition which ultimately damaged the staging of Italian opera in London. Il pastor fido has been performed in modern times on numerous occasions, with the 1734 version first performed in 1948 at Göttingen, and the 1712 version in 1971 in Unicorn Theatre, Abingdon.