Charitable organisation SWAP’ra (Supporting Women and Parents in Opera) announces that actor Kevin Whately will attend its inaugural Gala at Opera Holland Park on 31 July 2018

The event will also feature an auction, which will include a box-set of Lewis DVDs and a Lewis script signed by Whately

The evening will also feature an excerpt from Rhondda Rips It Up! – a Welsh National Opera production celebrating the life of suffragette Lady Rhondda, Margaret Haig Thomas

On 31 July 2018, SWAP’ra, a newly-established charitable organisation supporting women and parents in the world of opera, will present its inaugural gala concert at Opera Holland Park.

The evening will feature an auction where actor and star of stage and screen Kevin Whately will be offering a Lewis box-set together with a script from the popular television show, which he will sign.

Kevin Whately is the father of SWAP’ra co-founder and mezzo-soprano, Kitty Whately, who will also be performing on the night. Kevin is a dedicated grandfather and often supports Kitty’s career by looking after her children while she works.

In an interview for SWAP’ra, Kevin talks about his own personal experiences of juggling a career with children and recalls: ‘I’ve only worked with a handful – perhaps no more than six – female directors in my 40-year career. I know that of those six, two have given up in order to have children. It seems that parents are penalised for starting families. It’s changing fast now, with more female producers and writers working in TV and movies today and hopefully more women directors will soon follow.’

He continues: ‘I’m very aware of the struggles Kitty faces as an opera singer juggling childcare. I want to give her a fair crack at her career, so I’m very happy to spend time babysitting in order to give her the opportunities she needs to progress.’

Unfortunately, not all parents in the opera industry have such a supportive network to help with childcare and the current tradition of opera houses scheduling rehearsals on the Friday for the following week means that there is limited time to arrange childcare. SWAP’ra is calling for a change in this practice in order to help those with dependants to make the necessary care arrangemtents well in advance.

The gala on 31 July at Opera Holland Park is a celebration of the incredible wealth of female talent in the opera industry. Hosted by actor Fiona Shaw, the series of semi-staged scenes conducted, directed, performed and accompanied by some of the UK’s best-loved artists, will feature music from opera favourites such as Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, and Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin as well as contemporary work by female composers Elena Langer, Roxanna Panufnik and Josephine Stephenson. The gala will showcase nearly 40 soloists, from rising-stars to some of the leading figures in opera.

The evening will also feature an excerpt from Welsh National Opera’s (WNO) production of Rhondda Rips It Up!. This riotous romp celebrates the life of suffragette Lady Rhondda, Margaret Haig Thomas, will be performed by Emma Carrington, as she rips up the rule book for women with direction from Caroline Clegg.

WNO’s production presents a riotous romp celebrating the life of suffragette Lady Rhondda, Margaret Haig Thomas, ripping up the rule book for women through performance and digital and community experiences. The Newport suffragette’s activities paved the way for women’s rights in the personal, professional and political worlds and is a perfect subject for the evening promoting the shared ethos of suffragist and SWAP’ra in its themes of liberty, survival and equality. Following a successful world premiere in June, WNO will be touring Rhondda Rips It Up! again in October and November visiting Swansea, Oxford, Bangor, Swindon, Northampton, Mold and Winchester.

Funds raised by this inaugural SWAP’ra gala will help to enable the organisation to make significant change in the industry. SWAP’ra aims to be a catalyst for change by encouranging the opera community to actively redress the issues by:

Putting the spotlight on gender imbalance by increasing the visibility of inspirational women

Creating a celebratory and supportive network of industry professionals where everyone has an equal voice

Supporting parents in opera by offering practical solutions to the unique challenges faced by parents and carers regardless of gender


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