Just in: England gets another countryhouse opera

Just in: England gets another countryhouse opera


norman lebrecht

August 19, 2016

Nevill Holt opera in Leicestershire has submitted plans to build a permanent, 400-seat opera house on its stable block.

The company has been staging summer opera since 2013.

It expands the countryhouse opera scene which consists of Glyndebourne, Garsington, Longborough, two rival Grange Park companies and a couple more, all of them functioning without state subsidy.

The Nevill Holt estate is owned by David Ross, who funds the opera company. Its manager is Rosenna East and its chief aim is to foster emerging talent.



  • Maria Brewin says:

    “all of them functioning without state subsidy.”

    Technically correct but a bit misleading. Glyndebourne, for instance, depends on orchestras which are subsidised, but not directly for work at the opera house.

    How much talent would be available in the UK for private ventures without the subsidies?

    • Robert Smith says:

      That’s an interesting but naive point – the Arts Council would be unlikely to sanction what they see as public funds to be used to subsidise private engagements which is what glyndebourne is.

      • Maria Brewin says:

        I think you’ve missed the point.

        I’m not suggesting for one minute that the Arts Council would or should do this. I’m saying that Glyndebourne is already subsidised indirectly because it is able to take advantage of the LPO and OAE which, arguably, wouldn’t exist without the public subsidy which supports their non operatic work when the Glyndebourne Festival is not running. I don’t know where the musicians employed by the other festivals are drawn from but I suspect that public funds play a part.

        Without the subsidies, the pool of talent which private ventures are able to draw upon would be much smaller. IMO it is foolish and simplistic to imply that these private and somewhat rarefied festivals have discovered some amazing formula for existing without subsidy.

        That aside, it is very good news from Nevill Holt Opera.

        • Robert King says:

          Might I just add a detail or two? One would of course need to look carefully at how the Arts Council funding that is rightly awarded to these two excellent orchestras is allocated but you can indeed be pretty sure that not one penny of public funding gets even indirectly allocated towards either the LPO or the OAE’s employment at Glyndebourne. It’s rather the opposite. My experience in receiving ACE funding, and from talking to many colleague organisations over many years, is that public funding is very strictly allocated and highly controlled to go towards exactly the specific projects for which application is made, and that these projects still need a lot of parallel money raised from external sources beyond that which is awarded by ACE. So I would make a pretty well-informed guess that the OAE (and probably the LPO too) enables more than a little of their non-Glyndebourne work by virtue of the surplus they make from those months of profitable (and risk-free) employment at Glyndebourne. So it’s perhaps more that “private” Glyndebourne’s employment of OAE and LPO actually enables and subsidises these splendid orchestras’ “public” work. A fine funding model from which everyone benefits.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Don’t Glynbourne get public funding to take a couple of operas on tour around the provinces during the autumn? Or doesn’t this count?