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The Barber of Seville

Giovanni Paisiello

sung in an English translation by Gilly French and Jeremy Grey

Conductor – Steven Devine; Director – Michael Burden

Read a review of the production here.

5 (Preview), 8, 11, 12, 14, 15 July 2017
The Warden’s Garden, New College

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)
9.15pm: Opera Part II, The Warden’s Garden
10.15pm: Curtain


5 & 11
8 & 14 Old Members and Friends of New College (01865) 279509 (open to general public from one week prior)
11 OXPIP (01865) 778 043
12 Friends of Oxford Botanic Gardens (07722) 605 787
15 Friends of WNO (01865) 408 045

The story of The Barber of Seville, best known to modern audiences through Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, had a number of previous settings, the most popular of which was by Giovanni Paisiello (1740 – 1816). The libretto comes straight from Beaumarchais, and is by the prolific (and capable) poet, Giuseppe Petrosellini. The opera was performed on 26 September 1782 at the Imperial Court in St Petersburg, and had lasting success; even after the premiere of Rossini’s version, Paisiello’s setting continued to be performed for some years afterward. Paisiello studied at the Conservatorio di S. Onoforio in Naples, originally as a singer. His years there were very successful, and he eventually became the composer for the Conservatorio’s theatre. His works there were mainly intermezzos, but they won him operatic commissions for Bologna and Rome, and when he departed the Conservatorio in 1763, he was in a position to launch a successful career. In 1776 Paisiello was invited by Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, and it was there that The Barber of Seville was conceived.

Cast List

Count Almaviva
Joseph Doody

Kate Semmens

Giles Underwood

Trevor Eliot Bowes

Don Basilio
Tom Kennedy

Alexander Gebhard

George Robarts

Stravinsky’s Renard and Walton’s The Bear

Igor Stravinsky
Renard; an Histoire burlesque

Tenor 1: William Rowland
Tenor 2: Alexander Gebhard
Baritone 1: Eunseog Lee
Baritone 2: Frederick Crowley

William Walton
The Bear; an Extravaganza

Madam Popova: Johanna Harrison
The Bear: Daniel Tate
Luka: Frederick Crowley

Conductor: Chloe Rooke
Director: Michael Burden

9 & 10 March 2017 8.30pm
New College Ante-Chapel
Tickets £12/£7 from
Or on the door

William Walton’s The Bear and Igor Stravinsky’s Renard, have more in common than it might appear for, both are based on Russian tales: Walton’s ‘Extravaganza’ uses Chekhov’s play of the same name as its source, while Stravinsky’s ‘Histoire burlesque’ was based by the composer on Russian folk tales from a collection by Alexander Afanasyev. The full title of Renard can be translated as The fable of the Vixen, the Cock the Cat and the Ram, which is a vicious moralizing tale, satirising both religion and the Church. The Cock is caught twice by the Fox, and is twice rescued by the Cat and the Ram; after the second rescue, the Cat and Ram kill the Fox. The Bear is a more light- hearted piece, and tells the story of Popova, who has been recently widowed. However, her attempts to remain faithful to her husband receive a blow as it emerges that Popov was promiscuous and unfaithful. One of her husband’ creditors, Smirnov, arrives; he is boorish and crass (the Bear), but Popova falls in love with him, and the opera ends with Luka, the servant looking aghast at the turn of events. The Bear, a Koussevitzky commission, premiered at Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh, on 3 June 1967; Renard was commissioned by Princesse Edmond de Polignac and was first performed in Paris on 18 May 1922, by the Ballets Russes.

Visiting Professor of Opera 2017 – Katie Mitchell

Photo by Lucy Rybin

Friday 27 January @ 5 pm in the T.S Eliot Lecture Theatre, Merton College (to be followed by a drinks reception in the foyer)

Woman. Alone:  Directing opera now.

Katie Mitchell is one of the few senior women working in opera in Britain and mainland Europe today.  She has worked here at English National Opera, The Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne Festival and Welsh National Opera. She is currently opening the revival of George Benjamin’s Written on Skin at the Royal Opera House whilst preparing for George Benjamin’s second commission scheduled for 2018. She has also worked extensively in Germany, France, Austria and Scandinavia at houses like The Staatsoper, Berlin, The Salzburg Festival and Royal Danish Opera.  She is currently a resident artist at The Aix en Provence Festival where she has directed five operas including Pelleas and Melisande and Handel’s Alcina.  IN her first ‘Conversation’, she will describe her background in theatre and how she fell into opera to become one of its leading international lights.

Entry is free, but booking is advised:

Saturday 28 January @ 9.30 am in the Ante-Chapel, New College

Acting Handel:  How to bring the da capo aria to life on stage.

Katie Mitchell will draw on her recent experience of directing Handel’s Alcina at the Aix en Provence Festival to run a workshop giving insights into how to make the da capo aria work dramatically.  These arias are notoriously difficult for opera singers to perform on stage and the workshop will be offer acting ideas and concrete tips to help the young singer navigate this tricky form.  The workshop will take the form of a ‘masterclass’ where young singers are directed live by Katie in front of the audience.  There will also be opportunities for some audience participation.  Footage of the original production of Alcina will also be seen as part of the workshop.

Entry is free, but booking is advised:

Hilary 2017 Recitals

New College Ante-chapel
1.15pm, £2/£1 concessions

January 20
Susannah Hardwick – Soprano

January 27
Laura Coppinger – Soprano

February 3
Glenn Wong – Countertenor

February 10
Charlotte Pawley – Soprano

February 17
Sofia Kirwan-Baez – Soprano

February 24
Kerenza Hurr – Soprano

March 3
Patrick Keefe – Bass

March 10
Indyana Schneider – Soprano

Henry Purcell:
Dido and Aeneas

17, 18, 19 November 2016
New College Ante-Chapel, 8:30pm

Conductor: James Orrell175_dido2_category
Director: Michael Burden
Repetiteur: Chloe Rooke

Dido: Lila Chrisp
Aeneas: George Robarts
Belinda: Gabriella Noble

Tickets: £12/£7 concessions

Or on the door.

Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas is one of the most popular Baroque operas in the repertory today; paradoxically, it is also one of the slightest, lasting less than one hour, with a small chorus and band, only a few characters, and no spectacle. And yet Purcell’s Dido emerges as one of the greatest and strongest 17th-century opera heroines, a woman with great decision, and one who, even after the great 19th-century tragic figures have trod the stage, still has appeal for a contemporary audience.

Michaelmas 2016 Recitals

New College Ante-chapel
1.15pm, £2/£1 concessions

October 14
Sofia Kirman-Baez – Soprano

October 21
Choral Scholars of Magdalen Choir – Tenors, Basses

October 28
Anthony Chater – Bass

November 4
Izzy Pitman – Soprano

November 11
George Robbers – Baritone

November 18
Lizzie Searle – Soprano

November 25
Ellie Bray – Soprano

December 2
Tom Dixon – Countertenor

Summer Oratorio

Cantata 54
Dixit Dominus

Directed by
James Orrell
8 June 2016
New College Chapel



Tickets at

Bach’s canata 54, Widerstehe doch der Sünde appears to have been written for performance in 1714, and there are various suggestions as to which was the intended Sunday. The text was originally written by Georg Christian Lehms for Oculi, the third Sunday in Lent, and was published in 1711. The canata may have already been composed when Bach began his regular cantata compositions in Weimar in 1714, where, as concertmaster, he assumed the principal responsibility for new compositions. This is his first extant church cantata for a solo voice, and the first of four written for a single alto soloist.

The second work on the programme, Handel’s Dixit Dominus, was composed while the composer was working in Rome. Written in 1707 when Handel was 22, it is a setting of Psalm 110, and is believed to have formed part of a setting of the Carmelite Vespers for the feast of the Madonna del Carmine. The psalm shows Christ portrayed as a prophet, priest and king not only of his own people, but of all nations. Handel’s Rome sojourn produced much elaborate and complex vocal music, including operas, cantatas, and his oratorio, La resurrezione, performed on the Easter Sunday of 1708 under Handel’s patron, Francesco Ruspoli. Dixit Dominus was supported by another patron, the Colonna family, and is most likely been performed on 16 July 1707 in the Church of Santa Maria in Montesanto.

Trinity 2016 Recitals

New College Ante-chapel
1.15pm, £2/£1 concessions

April 30
Johanna Harrison (soprano)

May 7
James Beddoe (tenor)

May 14
Johanna Harrison (soprano)

May 21
Lizzie Searle (soprano)

May 28
Peter Leigh (tenor)

June 3
Izzy Rose (soprano)

June 11
Ellie Bray (soprano)

June 18
James Altunkaya (baritone)

Hilary 2016 Recitals

New College Ante-chapel
1.15pm, £2/£1 concessions

February 9
Liam Connery (Tenor)

February 12
James Geidt (Baritone)

February 19
Johanna Harrison (Soprano)

February 28
Katie Jeffries-Harris (Soprano)

March 5
Jacob Ewens (Tenor)

March 12
Maximillian Lawrie (Tenor)

Domenico Cimarosa:
The Parisian Painter

(Il pittor parigino)

picnicLibretto by Giuseppe Petrosellini; Translation by Simon Rees

Summer Opera 2016
July 6, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15 & 16

See below for ticket details.

The Evening’s Events

6.00: Drink in the Cloisters
6.30: Opera Part I, The Warden’s Garden
Picnic Interval in the Cloisters (approximately 90 minutes)
9.00pm: Opera Part II, The Warden’s Garden
10.15pm: Curtain

stageThe Parisian Painter

Eurilla, a young lady (soprano): Rachel Shannon
Monsieur de Crotignac, the Parisian painter, in love with Eurilla (tenor); Nick Pritchard
Cintia, Eurilla’s cousin (soprano): Kate Semmens; Cecilia Osmond (12, 13)
Barone Cricca (basso): Sheridan Edwards; Matthew Thomson (9)
Broccardo, Eurilla’s ancient servant (tenor): Tom Kennedy

Conductor: Steven Devine
Director: Michael Burden

lodgingsRepetiteur: James Orrell
Repetiteur: Chloe Rooke

The Warden’s Garden, New College

The Parisian Painter

Domenico Cimarosa’s The Parisian Painter had its premiere at the Teatro Valle in Rome on 2 January 1781. The opera had an adventurous life; it was staged in 1782 in Milan, as part of the season at the Teatro alla Scala; in 1785 at the King’s Theatre in London; in 1793 in Vienna; in 1794 at Real Theatro Sao Carlo in Lisbon. In a revised version, it was staged as Le brame deluse in Florence in 1787 with the addition of some arias of Francesco Cipolla, and in 1794 at the Teatro Nuovo in Naples as Il barone burlato.

Domenico Cimarosa

cimarosaCimarosa was among the most successful of late 18th-century opera composers. He was born in Aversa, Campania, and was sent to Naples to study. He obtained a scholarship at the musical institute of Santa Maria di Loreto, where he studied with Nicolo Piccini, Antionio Sacchini, and others. His first opera was the 1772 comedy, Le stravaganze del conte, followed by the farce Le pazzie di Stelladaura e di Zoroastro; these resulted in an invitation to Rome, and he began writing more widely, with premieres in Rome, Naples, Florence, and Venice. From 1787 to 1792, Cimarosa worked in St Petersburg by invitation of Empress Catherine II. And on returning to Vienna, wrote what is regarded as his masterpiece, Il matrimonio segreto (NCO staged it 1990, and in 1996). He died in Venice in 1801.

Tickets as below

Wednesday 6th July (Preview) or
Saturday 9th July (New College Development Office) – Contact: (01865) 279 337
Sunday 10th July (New Chamber Opera) or
Tuesday 12th July (OXPIP) or
Wednesday 13th July (Botanic Gardens) – Contact: 07722 605 787
Friday 15th July (New College Development Office) – Contact: (01865) 279 337
Saturday 16th July (Friends of Welsh National Opera) – Contact: (01844) 237 551 or (07813) 907 466