Project information

Unearthing operatic treasure from the 18th century

Bampton makes a significant contribution to musical history and the public's enjoyment, rediscovering forgotten 18th-century operas and making them live once more through innovative and energetic performances, with casts of outstanding young singers and musicians.

July 2017 - November 2017

Charity information: Bampton Classical Opera

Bampton Classical Opera logo
  • Need


    We are widely recognised for breaking the traditional mould of operatic repertory: so many companies, large and small, play safe and only perform a relatively small canon of accepted familiar pieces. Bampton takes risks, and it repays magnificently: we have revitalised fascinating works and thrilled audiences, critics and musicologists with our discoveries. We also provide a supportive atmosphere for young singers, providing fascinating challenges and helping their emerging careers to develop.


    We'll give at least 4 staged performances of a significant 'forgotten' opera - Salieri's colourful 'La scuola de'gelosi', also marking the bicentenary of one of the greatest English sopranos, Nancy Storace, close friend of Mozart. This once highly successful opera inspired Mozart and Da Ponte to write 'Così fan tutte'. We'll hold our 3rd Young Singers' Competition, a well-established biennial event supporting singers aged 20-32. We hope also to give a special concert to honour Storace.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To rediscover rare 18th century operatic repertory.


    » We will research, promote, rehearse and perform a major rare opera by Salieri, with definite performances in 3 venues.
    » We hope to mark the bicentenary of one of Salieri's and Mozart's greatest singers, Nancy Storace, with a special concert.

    Success is measured through audience attendance, their feedback, the comments by critics, and through our ever-growing general reputation.

    Aim 2

    We will support the early career development of outstanding young professional singers.


    » Our opera performances will be cast from the very best young emerging professionals, drawn from our experience and from audition.
    » Our 3rd biennial Young Singers' Competition will identify and support outstanding talent agent 20-32.

    Positive reviews by critics are instrumental in developing early careers - our press reviews are always strong, thanks to our experience in selecting the very best singers.

    Aim 3

    We will educate, entertain and inspire the public through our work.


    » We give our audiences new musical experiences, enabling them to discover and learn about music they have never before encountered.

    We have created audiences thirsty for novelty and fresh experiences. Our success is proven in comments received and also through winning new members to our Friends' organisation.

    Aim 4

    We will add to musical knowledge.


    » Our work with rare opera often involves creating new musical editions from 18th-century sources such as manuscripts, and new English translations.

    Our scores and translations have been taken up by other companies, especially in Australia and USA. Our expert programme notes are frequently referred to online.

  • Impact


    Our work will help to support the superbly talented musicians for whom there are dwindling employment possibilities because of recession and unfounded mistrust of the opera art form. In the past we have helped several young singers, conductors and directors forward on their careers and we are delighted when we encounter such performing on major national and international stages. We plan major growth in the company in 2 - 3 years time, and this project will help effect that.


    The risks are chiefly financial, since we depend significantly on private and charity donors. We have always maintained fair ticket prices in order to widen accessibility, but consequently box office income covers less than half our costs. The risk is failing to reach funding targets. We are however flexible and adept at running a lightly-funded organisation with minimal overheads, and we develop various fundraising strategies such as our 'Sponsoranaria' scheme.


    We invite donors to see and enjoy our performances. We write formal feedback reports, and offer access to critical reviews and press coverage.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £107,700

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      Amount Heading Description
      £52,550 professional fees Fees to singers, players and creative personnel
      £6,000 venues hire Hiring fees of major venues
      £19,500 technical costs Costs of music hire, staging, scenery, costumes
      £16,500 marketing PR agency, D&P, marketing
      £13,150 administration, miscellaneous office costs and administrative support, catering, accommodation, licenses, insurance, contingency

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Friends organisation standing orders £12,500 Guaranteed
    regular trust funds £4,000 Conditional
  • Background


    We have traditionally performed in two rural locations in Bampton, Oxfordshire and Westonbirt, Gloucestershire, where we have built up new audiences in areas not usually served by such activity. We also always perform in central London, and our Competition is held in Oxford. We attract significant number of retired people, but cover all age ranges.


    Our audiences, professional musicians, volunteers and musicologists. Our activities are inevitably small in scale, but we are well supported by about 25 volunteers who have come to discover the benefits of working with us in a range of activities (e.g. front-of-house, backstage) which they had never previously encountered. Our musicians become very loyal, gaining a very positive working experience with us, which they often profess is far more supportive than with many bigger companies.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We have 24 years of successful, enterprising experience and have rediscovered many treasures of forgotten 18th-century opera, giving more than 10 significant UK premieres. Numerous press reviews praise our unique achievement, especially our brave choice of repertory and our sound instincts in identifying outstanding young musicians, building a corporate brand based on superb vocal abilities, diction, blend, interpretation and stage-craft.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Gilly French

    Co artistic director/trustee. A founder of the company, acclaimed experience as a translator, choral conductor and administrator.

    Jeremy Gray

    Co artistic director/trustee. Also a founder. Director of Productions, responsible for all staging aspects, and much acclaimed in the press.

    Anthony Hall

    Part-time administrator. A retired events-management professional. 8 years of service with BCO.

    Margaret Skeet

    Independent PR professional. Working with us for the 3rd year, she has transformed our press coverage and public recognition.

Bampton...remains both as true to its small-scale ambitions and as delightful as country opera can be.... With fine singing and exemplary comic acting, and sensitive unfussy accompaniment... the evening is as delightful and diversely entertaining as 18th-century opera...was always intended to be.

Guy Dammann, Times Literary Supplement (29 July 2016)