John Eliot Gardiner to play the Ally Pally

The conductor has announced a touring production of Handel’s Semele this spring with his Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists. They will visit Paris, Milan, Barcelona and Rome.

But the truly groundbreaking venue is the last one on the list, the Alexandra Palace Theatre in north London, which has reopened after restoration for the first time in 80 years. Built in 1873, the Ally Pally was once a major venue for comedy and music hall in a popular catchment area. Could it be the next chamber opera magnet?

Not for the first time, the entrepreneurial Gardiner appears to be ahead of the game.

photo: Building magazine


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  • The performance is scheduled for the evening of Thursday 2 May.

    The blurb states:

    ‘The title role will be presented by the acclaimed English soprano Louise Alder, with young tenor Hugo Hymas stepping into the role of the amorous Jupiter. French mezzo-soprano Lucile Richardot will take on the dual roles of Juno, Jupiter’s jealous, machinating wife, and Ino, Semele’s sister. The international cast is completed by countertenor Carlo Vistoli and bass Gianluca Buratto.’

    As I live right next to the palace I shall certainly be going along on the night.

  • “Gardiner appears to be ahead of the game.” Not quite. The BBC Proms demonstrated the interest in the venue with a performance of Trial by Jury in 2018 which sold out instantly. A fully-staged Semele could be a harbinger of more good things to come.

  • The location of Alexandra Palace between Muswell Hill and Wood Green. isolated in the middle of the park, does not make it a particularly interesting venue, I think.

    • The palace was once in the middle of the park – if you go back to the period before 1900 – but since a major sell-off of the northern park area has sat on the northern edge of the park.

      In terms of interest it has a fascinating history which has been told in a documentary (available on DVD for anyone interested –

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