Bampton Classical Opera 2023: 30th Anniversary Season

Bampton Classical Opera celebrates its 30th anniversary season with a busy calendar of events, the highlight being the UK première of Salieri’s ‘At the Venice Fair’ (La fiera di Venezia).  The company will also present a Haydn double-bill of ‘The Diva’/’The Apothecary’ at this year’s Northern Aldborough Festival, there will be an exhibition in Bampton of the company’s costumes, props and artefacts to mark the 30th anniversary, and the 2023 Young Singers’ Competition will take place in the autumn.

F J Haydn double-bill The Diva’/’The Apothecary’ – 15 June, 6.30pm
St. Andrew’s Church, Aldborough, YO51 9ER

Bampton Classical Opera is thrilled to return to the Northern Aldborough Festival in a double bill of comedies by Haydn. ‘The Diva’ (or ‘La canterina’) of the title is Gasparina, a temperamental, manipulative and grasping young singer who is given a singing lesson by the lecherous teacher Maestro Pelagio. Other characters, including Gasparina’s chaperone-cum-agent Apollonia and Don Ettore, a handsome jewel thief, become involved and the situation deteriorates rapidly! ‘The Apothecary’ (‘Lo speziale’) is a comedy of great warmth and ebullience about a love quartet between work-shy chemist Sempronio, his beautiful (and rich) ward Grilletta, and his two love rivals, poor apprentice Mengone and wealthy dandy Volpino.

The cast includes soprano Iúnó Connolly (Gasparina/Grilletta), soprano Madeline Robinson (Don Ettore/Volpino), tenor Guy Beynon (Apollonia/Sempronio), and tenor Henry Ross (Don Pelagio/ Mengone).  The conductor is Mark Austin, and the production is directed by Jeremy Gray.

Bampton Classical Opera has taken a lead in presenting Haydn’s neglected operas to new audiences and has staged six with great success, including last season’s much-praised production of ‘Fool Moon’ (Il mondo della luna).  ‘The Diva’ and ‘The Apothecary’ are his earliest surviving performable operas and are scored for similar forces.  With their simple but witty plots, they demonstrate the composer’s delight in exploring bizarre situations and creating affectionately humorous music.


Bampton Classical Opera will also give a performance of ‘The Apothecary’ at Wadhurst: the Barn at Old Walland, Wadhurst, East Sussex TN5 6LU on Saturday 9 September.  Tickets £75, including a donation to Sussex Heart Charity, from


Antonio Salieri ‘At the Venice Fair’ (La fiera di Venezia) (1772)
A comic opera, in three acts, UK première
The Deanery Garden, Bampton, Oxfordshire: 7pm, Friday 21, Saturday 22 July
Westonbirt School, Gloucestershire: 5pm, Monday 28 August
St John’s Smith Square, London: 7pm, Wednesday 13 September
Libretto: Giovanni Gastone Boccherini
English Translation: Gilly French
Director/Designer: Jeremy Gray
Conductor: Thomas Blunt
Orchestra of Bampton Classical Opera (Bampton, Westonbirt)
CHROMA (St John’s Smith Square)

For its 30th anniversary season Bampton Classical Opera is delighted to present the UK première of a rumbustious comedy set in Venice by Antonio Salieri (1750-1825), La fiera di Venezia. It will be sung in a new English translation by Gilly French as ‘At the Venice Fair’. Performances will be conducted by Thomas Blunt and directed by Jeremy Gray

First performed in the illustrious Burgtheater in Vienna in 1772, La fiera di Venezia was Salieri’s sixth opera and his first truly popular success, rapidly reaching across northern Europe with new performances.  Many aspects of it were experimental, aimed at creating engaging and often unpredictable comedy.  A Venetian street market, a rigged raffle, a masked ball and ultimately a triple wedding make it a wonderfully festive piece, with a range of characters from different social classes, and a marvellous sequence of scintillating arias and energetic ensembles.  Several aspects of it anticipate Mozart’s great operas, and it’s no surprise that the 16-year-old Mozart wrote a set of miniature variations for piano on the beguiling Minuet from the ball scene.  Bampton has previously performed three great Salieri operas, revealing the genius of this somewhat maligned composer, and La fiera di Venezia will again demonstrate how skilled the composer was at creating melodious and exciting comic opera.

The wonderful cast includes several singers who are making their company débuts: sopranos Ellen Mawhinney and Joanna Songi, tenor Andrew Henley and baritone Aaron Kendall.Bampton is delighted to welcome back soprano Iúnó Connolly and tenor Peter van Hulle who have both sung in previous productions.

Falsirena                     Ellen Mawhinney (soprano)
Calloandra                  Joanna Songi (soprano)
Cristallina                    Iúnó Connolly (soprano)
Ostrogoto                    Andrew Henley (tenor)
Rasojo                         tbc
Belfusto                       Aaron Kendall (baritone)
Grifagno                      Peter van Hulle (tenor)
Director/designer       Jeremy Gray
Choreographer           Karen Halliday
Costume Designer      Pauline Smith
Lighting                       Ian Chandler              
Translation                  Gilly French

Bampton Classical Opera stages productions in rural venues in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire as well as regularly in London at St John’s Smith Square.  Other significant venues and festivals have included Wigmore Hall and Purcell Room, Buxton Festival, Cheltenham Festival and Theatre Royal Bath.  Eschewing familiar repertoire, Bampton concentrates instead on rarities from the late eighteenth century, sung in lively new English translations, and has given many enterprising performances of forgotten operas.  Amongst these have been UK premières of Bertoni Orfeo, Marcos Portugal The Marriage of Figaro, Paer Leonora, Benda Romeo and Juliet, Gluck Il Parnaso confusoPhilemon and Baucis and Salieri Falstaff

Bampton Classical Opera was a finalist in the Rediscovered Opera category of the 2020 International Opera Awards.

The delightful Deanery Garden at Bampton provides a charming and picturesque venue for open-air opera, with an excellent natural acoustic.  Westonbirt School is a spectacular Victorian mansion, with extensive Grade I listed gardens: the performances take place in the Orangery Theatre.  Audiences are encouraged to bring their own garden chairs to Bampton and enjoy a pre-performance or interval picnic.

St John’s Smith Square is the most historic of London’s concert halls and provides an outstanding and appropriately eighteenth-century setting for this performance. 

Salieri At the Venice Fair performances, with free pre-performance talks:                 

The Deanery Garden, Bampton OX18 2LL
7.00 pm Friday 21 and Saturday 22 July

The Orangery Theatre, Westonbirt School, near Tetbury, Gloucestershire GL8 8QG
5.00 pm Monday 28 August

St John’s Smith Square, London SW1P 3HA
7.00 pm Wednesday 13 September

Booking Information, Bampton and Westonbirt
Tickets: £42 (under 18: half-price)
By Telephone: 01993 851142
Booking information, St John’s Smith Square
Details will be available later in the year.