A Night at the Opera – Opera UK’s Gala at Cadogan Hall [26 June 2011]

Written by: Michael Darvell

Michael Darvell previews a grand night for singing in the fund-raising gala for Opera UK at Cadogan Hall…


It’s not everybody who, on reaching retirement, would decide to create an opera company. However, this is exactly what John Mullis did when he left the printing industry. A lifelong lover of opera, Mullis set up Opera UK just a few years ago and it has already completed several tours of the UK, Ireland and even ventured out to the Middle East. After only eighteen months it had nine new productions under its belt, with excellent showings of Puccini’s Tosca, Mozart’s Così fan tutte and The Impresario, Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra, Lehár’s The Merry Widow, Manuel de Falla’s El amor Brujo, plus An Evening with Giacomo Puccini, an Operatic Cabaret and a version of Così in Concert. Add to these an education programme including a new opera for children, Hello Mr Darwin, about the celebrated naturalist’s arrival on the Galapagos Islands, which had its premiere in November 2010, and you have a repertoire that would be the envy of any company. The Autumn 2011 season opens with a new touring production of Verdi’s La traviata starting in September and then touring again in the Spring of 2012 covering England and both northern and southern Ireland.

Opera UK also has its ‘best of’ showcase evening, A Night at the Opera, which presents excerpts from twenty different works, and has nothing to do with the Marx Brothers and there’s no sign of anything from Il trovatore (a production of which Groucho and co destroy in the film). There is much to enjoy and it’s a programme ideally suited for the evening of Sunday 26 June 2011 when Opera UK holds its fundraising gala at Cadogan Hall in Sloane Square. The company is fielding new talent, undoubtedly the opera stars of tomorrow. Opera UK auditions the best singers from the UK’s music academies and conservatoires in order to bring freshness to the company and gives rising stars a chance to play leading roles, making opera accessible to good vocal talent and audiences.

A Night at the Opera will be fielding seven very promising performers in arias and duets by Verdi, Delibes, Bizet, Rossini, Bernstein, Lehár, Bizet, Mozart, Puccini, Gounod, Offenbach, Dvořák and Humperdinck, a programme of real lollipops, including from Carmen, Candide, La bohème, and many other favourites, finishing with ‘Nessun dorma’ from Turandot – now the most famous aria in the world. The seven singers are already well experienced. Belinda Evans is the permanent soprano of the Choir of the Guards Chapel at Wellington Barracks and also teaches in schools and colleges in London. Among the roles she has sung they include Mimi, Rosina and Micaela. Soprano Alison Guill hails from Minnesota and whilst training at the Royal Academy of Music sang in The Marriage of Figaro and Into the Woods, and she has also appeared in The Phantom of the Opera, Scrooge and Showboat. Nicola Pulford, a light lyric soprano, studied at Trinity College of Music and English National Opera Works. She has sung in Gilbert & Sullivan, La bohème, The Merry Widow. For the gala she includes the ‘Flower Duet’ from Lakmé.

Mezzo-soprano Clare Presland trained at ENO Works and at the Guildhall School of Music. Numerous famous operas are on her CV. At Cadogan Hall Clare will sing from La clemenza di Tito, The Tales of Hoffmann, and Carmen. Tenor Patrick Mundy made his professional debut in Britten’s Death in Venice at Bregenz. He has toured the Netherlands in Bach’s St John Passion, has sung in La bohème for Scottish Opera, and appearances for Opera Holland Park include Katya Kabanova and La forza del destino, and this year there he is appearing in Puccini’s La Rondine. In the gala he sings excerpts from La traviata and La bohème. Anando Mukerjee has been dubbed “India’s finest tenor”. He has appeared in numerous popular operas and his Cadogan appearance includes the duet from The Pearl Fishers. Baritone Adam Miller studied in Melbourne before coming to the Royal Academy of Music and further studies in Milan. He joins Mukerjee for The Pearl Fishers and will also sing from Carmen and The Barber of Seville.

The programme has been devised by Jane McCulloch, Artistic Director of Opera UK and a very experienced theatre and opera director. Stephen Hose has conducted and accompanied many of Opera UK’s fine productions. Natalie Wheen, from Classic FM, will be introducing the gala concert.
Opera UK is a registered charity, but receives no grants and needs to raise money to keep its shows on the road.


  • A Night at the Opera is at Cadogan Hall on Sunday 26 June 2011 at 7 p.m.
  • Tickets from £10.00 to £30.00 bookable on 020 7730 4500 or by post to Opera UK, Cameo House, 11 Bear Street, London WC2H 7AS, with cheques payable to Opera UK Ltd
  • Special gala tickets at £75.00 to include a reception and a chance to meet the performers after the concert
  • Opera UK
  • Cadogan Hall

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