Summer Opera

Summer Opera 2024

34th Season

Haydn: La vera costanza

Conductor: Steven Devine
Producer: Michael Burden
26 June (Preview), 29, 30, July 2, 3, and 5, 2024

June 26: (Preview) New Chamber Opera – Tickets from TicketSource
June 29: New College Development Office – contact [email protected] for ticket information.
June 30: Friends of Welsh National Opera – contact Bernadette Whittington, [email protected] or call 07813 907466 for ticket information.
July 2: New Chamber Opera – Tickets available from TicketSource
OXPIP Supporters – Tickets available from SheepApp
July 3: Friends of the Oxford Botanic Gardens – Tickets available from the Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum
July 5: New College Development Office – contact [email protected] for ticket information.



Rosina, a fisherwoman
Aine Smith
Baroness Irene, Count Errico’s aunt
Lara Marie Müller
Lisetta, the baroness’s maid
Kate Semmens
Count Errico, secret husband of Rosina
Joseph Doody
Marquis Ernesto, friend of Errico
David Horton
Masino, fishermanRosina’s brother
Robert Forrest
Villotto, a wealthy but doltish gentleman
Thomas Nisser

Haydn’s riotous comedy, La vera CostanzaThe 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 a 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!

Summer Opera 2023

33rd Season

Giovanni Paisiello
La Frascatana; or, The Girl from Frascati
Sung in English in a new translation by Simon Rees.


The Band of Instruments
Conductor: Steven Devine
Producer: Michael Burden

June 28 (Preview), July 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 2023
The Warden’s Garden, New College (if wet in the Antechapel)

June 28: (Preview) £35 – Tickets from Ticketsource
July 1: New College Development Office – Sold Out. If you would like to request to be added to the waiting list for this night, please email [email protected]
July 2: Friends of Welsh National Opera – Tickets from Bernadette Whittington, [email protected]; mobile 07813907466
July 4: £44 – Tickets from Ticketsource
July 5: Friends of the Oxford Botanic Gardens – Tickets from FOBG
July 7: New College Development Office – Sold Out. If you would like to request to be added to the waiting list for this night, please email [email protected]


ViolanteEmily Brown Gibson
daughter of a gardener from Frascati
Don FabrizioThomas Humphreys
Violante’s tutor
Nardone Henry Ross
in love with Violante
Cavaliere GiocondoMagnus Walker
betrothed to Donna Stella, also in love with Violante
Donna StellaLara Marie Müller
betrothed to the Cavaliere
LisettaKate Semmens
a waitress, also in love with the Cavaliere
PagnottaThomas Niesser
servant of the Cavaliere

Jamie Andrews
Luke Mitchell

Paisiello’s opera premiered at the Teatro S Samuele in Venice in the autumn 1774, and soon became one of the most popular operas of the 18th century, performed in Italy, France, Austria, and England. The work was reinvented as an opera comique, L’infante de Zamora, was translated into other languages, and was still being performed in 1808. The plot is set in an inn on the outskirts of Rome. Violante – the girl from Frascati – is daughter of a rich gardener from Frascati and who dreams idealistically about love. She fends off the sleezy advances of her tutor, Don Fabrizio, but falls in love with Nardone, a handsome Roman who returns her affections. Also in love with Violante is Cavaliere Giocondo; both lovers cause maximum confusion and jealously by confessing their feelings to Don Fabrizio. The waitress of the inn, Lisetta, falls in love with the Cavaliere … the plot descends into farce as Giocondo’s jilted lover, Donna Stella, arrives, but all efforts to separate Nardone and Violante fail, and reconciled, the lovers are united.

Summer Opera 2022

Domenico Cimarosa, Le astuzie femminili (Feminine Shrewdness) 1794

29 June (Preview), 2, 3, 5, 6, 8 July 2022.

Feminine Shrewdness (performed in English) is the perfect opera for summer; a lighted-hearted look at the difficulties created for the orphan Bellina and her guardian the fraudulent lawyer Don Romualdo, by Bellina’s father’s impossible will; this provides her with a large dowry, but only if she should marry the crude and cowardly Don Giampaolo Lasagna. All the action flows from attempts to rescue Bellina from her cruel fate and includes two characters who disguise themselves as Hussars, while wildly speaking broken German.

As always, we are looking forward to welcoming you to the Summer Opera. However, please note that due to the changing COVID19 situation, the organisation and management of the event and venues are subject to change.

6.00pm Drinks
6.30pm Act I
8.00pm Picnic Interval
9.15pm Act II
10.30pm Curtain down

Performances will be dedicated as follows:

29 June (Preview) New Chamber Opera
TicketSource booking has now closed.

2 July New College Development Office
Please note that a photographer will be present on this evening.

3 July Oxford Friends of Welsh National Opera
Enquiries to Bernadette Whittington 07813 907466

5 July New Chamber Opera
TicketSource booking has now closed.

6 July Friends of the Oxford Botanic Gardens
Enquiries to Freyja Jones 07472 365001  or
email: [email protected]

8 July New College Development Office

Conductor – Steven Devine
Director – Michael Burden

Answers to FAQs

 Anyone who is not on the NCO electronic mailing list and who would like to be updated on the Summer Opera, should email [email protected] 

Cast in Order of Appearance

Dr Romualdo – Dominic Bowe
A Neapolitan apothecary, pretended lawyer, and guardian of Bellina with whom he is in love; he also casts his eye on Ersilia

Ersilia – Gwendolen Martin
Friend and confidante of Bellina

Filandro – Rory Carver
A young man secretly in love with Bellina

Bellina – Emily Brown Gibson
Ward of Dr Romualdo and secretly in love with Filandro

Giampaolo – Daniel Tate
A Neapolitan apothecary, betrothed to Bellina by her father’s will

Leonora – Kate Semmens
One time governess to Dr Romualdo

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.

Haydn: Il mondo della luna

The Summer Opera
4 (Preview)/7/10/11/13/14 July 2018

Conductor – Steven Devine; Director – Michael Burden

In a new English translation by Simon Rees


NCO’s Rare Haydn Opera is an Enchanting Oxford Evening – Seen and Heard International
A World of Enchantment: New Chamber Opera’s Production of Haydn’s Il mondo della luna – British Society for Eighteenth Century Studies

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
10.15pm: Curtain


Wednesday 4 (Preview) & Tuesday 10
New Chamber Opera
Download a form here


Saturday 7 & Friday 13
Tickets: New College Development Office (01865) 279 337

Tuesday 10
Tickets: OXPIP (01865) 778 034

Wednesday 11
Tickets: Friends of the Oxford Botanic Garden (07722) 605 787

Saturday 14
Tickets: Friends of WNO (01865) 408 045

Il mondo della luna

Ecclitico, a would-be astronomer: Daniel Shelvey
Ernesto, a cavalier: Daniel Keating-Roberts
Buonafede, a naive old man: Thomas Kennedy
Clarice, daughter of Buonafede: Kate Semmens
Flaminia, another daughter of Buonafede: Rachel Shannon
Lisetta, maid of Buonafede: Indyana Schneider
Cecco, servant of Ernesto: Alexander Gebhard

The central character of Haydn’s opera Il Mondo della Luna is a rather dotty and egotistical but naive old man, Bonafede. He is entranced by the lunar lifestyle invented by Ecclitico, the false astronomer. The aim of the opera is to befuddle Bonafede into allowing his two daughters to marry: Flaminia to Ernesto, and Clarice to Ecclitico. The opera was performed in celebration of the wedding of Count Nikolaus Eszterházy (son of Haydn’s employer, Prince Eszterházy) and the Countess Maria Anna Weissenwolf on August 3, 1777, but very rarely (if at all) thereafter. It underwent a number of changes, and it is clear that there is not one but many versions of the piece.

The opera was a pathbreaker in a number of ways. Up until 1776 there was no regular operatic tradition at the Eszterházy court, where Haydn was composer and Kapellmeister. He had composed several well-received operas, including L’infedeltà delusa (performed by New Chamber Opera in 2014) but it was not until the completion of the new Eszterházy theatre that he began to compose operas on a regular basis. Haydn not only wrote new operas but promoted works by other composers’ new repertoire. It has undergone some revival in the last few years, in particular, in two different productions by English Touring Opera.

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

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

Antonio Salieri: La Locandiera

640px-Joseph_Willibrod_Mähler_001Summer Opera 2015

Mirandolina – Rachel Shannon
Marchese di Forlimpopoli – George Coltart
Conte D’Albafiorita – Jorge Navarro-Colorado
Sheridan Edward, 11 July
Fabrizio – Trevor Eliot Bowes
Cavaliere di Rippafrata – Tom Raskin
Lena – Kate Semmens

Conductor – Steven Devine
Director – Michael Burden

Repetiteur – Michael Pandya
Repetiteur – James Orrell

The Warden’s Garden, New College
6:30pm, July 8, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19

See below for ticket details

The composer, Antonio Salieri, was born in Legnago, south of Verona, in the Republic of Venice, but spent his career in the service of the Habsburgs Monarchy. For much of that time, from 1774 to 1792, he was Director of the Court opera, and not only a major figure in Vienna, but he also composed operas which were performed in Paris, Rome, and London. As a student, he had studied with Florian Gassmann (whom he succeeded in the court theatre) and was a protégé of Gluck.

Goldoni’s play, La Locandiera, was written in 1753, and is regarded as one of Goldoni’s finest; it has been described by one critic as his Much Ado About Nothing. It tells the story of the fascinating Mirandolina, who is the landlady of a wayside inn. All her customers fall in love with her, including the arrogant Cavaliere di Ripfratta, who claims to be immune from female charms. The other characters in the opera are the waiter Fabrizio, who is jealous of those who fall for his mistress; the maid Lena, who is looking for a husband; the poor Marquis of Forlimpopoli, who promises much and delivers little; and the contrastingly wealthy Conte d’Albafiorate.

The operatic verison, with a libretto by Domenico Poggi, was first performed in Vienna in 1773. It was an astounding success, with performances in theatres in France, Germany, Italy and Austria. However, by the end of the century it had fallen from favour, and it did not receive its first modern performance until 1989. The New Chamber Opera performances will be the first in England in modern times, and will have a new translation by Simon Rees.

Dates and Ticket Details


8 Wednesday (Preview)
Download form
11 Saturday – SOLD OUT
New College Development Office (01865) 279 337
12 Sunday
Download form
14 Tuesday – SOLD OUT
Download form
15 Wednesday
Friends of the Oxford Botanic Garden
17 Friday
New College Development Office (01865) 279 337
18 Saturday
Oxford Friends of Welsh National Opera (01844) 237 551 or (07813) 907 466
19 Sunday
Oxford Friends of Welsh National Opera (01844) 237 551 or (07813) 907 466

Joseph Haydn: L’Infedeltà Delusa

Haydn039 (Preview), 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20 July 2014
The Warden’s Garden, New College

Approximate performance timings
6.30 Curtain up
7.50 Interval
9.15 Second half
10.15 Curtain down

Rachel Shannon – Vespina
Kate Semmens – Sandrina
Adam Tunnicliffe – Fillippo
Tom Raskin – Nencio
Thomas Kennedy – Vanni

Steven Devine, conductor
Michael Burden, director

9 (Preview) Download form here
12 & 18 New College Development Fund Call (01865) 279 337
13 Download form here
15 Download form here
16 Friends of the Oxford Botanic Garden Call (07722) 605 787
19 & 20 Friends of Welsh National Opera Call (01865) 408 045 [email protected]

Despite the fact that Haydn wrote numerous operas, it can be said even today that although not neglected, they are the least know works in his output. And the figures stack up; he produced 13 Italian operas, 4 Italian comedies with spoken dialogue, and 5 or 6 German Singspiele. He also produced incidental music for plays. almost all were composed for the Esterházy court.

L’infedeltà delusa was described as a ‘burletta per musica’, and had a libretto by Marco Coltellini. It was first performed at Eszterháza, the seat of the Esterházy family who employed Haydn, on 26 July 1773, the name day of the Dowager Princess Esterházy. Like many other 18th-century operas, it had a short life; there was one for Empress Maria Theresia on 1 September, and another, on 1 July 1774, to mark the visit to Eszterháza of two distinguished Italians, and then no more during Haydn’s lifetime. Maria Theresia’s reported comment – ‘If I wish to hear a good opera, I go to Eszterháza’ – indicates the esteem that both Haydn and the court were held. It is believed that a gift of 25 ducats from Prince Nikolaus Esterházy to Haydn at the end of May 1774 was a thank-offering for the new opera.

L’infedeltà delusa marks a particular moment Haydn’s development as an opera composer, a development which is reflected in the use of characters only from the peasant class, no chorus, two acts of equal length, and a small orchestra. The opera has a convoluted love plot involving two pairs of lovers, Sandrina (a simple girl) and Nanni (a peasant) and Nencio (a well-to-do peasant) and Vespina (‘a girl of free spirit’). The action arises from the desire of Sandrina’s father, Filippo, to marry her to Nencio, in which he succeeds to the extent of dragging out of Sandrina her reluctant agreement to marry Nencio and rebuff Nanni. With various twists and turns in which Vespina plots and disguises herself as a frail old woman, a tipsy German servant, and a pretended bridegroom, the Marchese di Ripafratta. After much derring-do, Filippo can do no other than accept the double wedding of Sandrina and Nanni, Vespina and Nencio. Like many similar 18th-century works, the key to much of the action is the importance of country life; here it found is Nencio’s view, expressed in an aria to Sandrina, that the flirtatiousness of the town girls is unsatisfactory compared with those of the countryside.


3 (Preview), 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14 July 2013

Approximate performance timings
6.30 curtain up
7.50 Interval
9.15 second half
10.15 curtain down

Asteria: Kate Semmens
Irene: Joanne Edworthy
Andronico: Joseph Bolger
Tamerlano: Daniel Keating-Roberts
Bajazet: Daniel Auchincloss
Leone: Giles Davies

3 July (Preview) Download form here
6 July and 12 July New College Development Fund Call (01865) 279 337
7 July Download form here
9 July Download form here
10 July Friends of the Oxford Botanic Garden Call (07722) 605 787
13 and 14 July 2012 Friends of Welsh National Opera Call (01865) 408 045 [email protected]

Conductor – Steven Devine
Director – Michael Burden