Tailor made opera brings sweet notes to a garden

Arranging a full operatic performance can be daunting at any time with its demands of cast, clothing, sets and crew. Add to that the vagaries of travelling the world and it could be a task too difficult to contemplate, let alone handle! Nicholas Heath remains calm, however, as he plans the forthcoming visit of Opera a la Carte to Ireland in July.

Nicholas Heath set up this touring opera company in 1993 and, nine years later, can boast an impressive a la carte menu of personalised operatic programmes. It all depends on the venue, the occasion and the duration of the expected performance. Word of mouth keeps Opera a la Carte busy and a flexible approach is essential in order to tailor the performance to individual needs. There's cabarets involving up to seven singers and a piano, with offerings from La Boheme and Tales of Hoffman, after-dinner singers concentrating on love duets, favourite arias and serenades, or the full Grand Opera performances of works by Verdi, Donizetti or Mozart.

Nicholas, who is both a performer and the artistic director of this group, arranged a Garden Opera of The Marriage of Figaro at Loughcrew Gardens, Co Meath, last year. It was a giant leap of faith for both Opera a la Carte and the owners, Emily and Charles Naper, who had only recently opened their gardens to the public.

"Apart from a little contretemps with the lighting backstage and a couple of cases of hayfever, there were no major problems," Nicholas relates. "We're all thrilled to be invited back by Charlie and Emily."

"I made my opera debut as Don Ottavio with the British Youth Opera in 1987, then I joined the Kent Opera for a while and moved on to the Pavilion Opera." It was in 1993 that he joined the Royal Opera and it is from this coterie of singers that members of Opera a la Carte hail. "I found that there was a growing need for informal evenings of opera of a high professional standard. We're intent on developing and improving our presentation at the venues where we perform," Nicholas explains.

Margaret Neylon
Irish Examiner



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Contact Information +44 (0)207 724 2696
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Location Opera A La Carte
82 Balcombe Street
Staff Details General Director
Nicholas Heath