In 2016 Alison Marshall and Justin Lavender realised their long held ambition to launch a new opera company. For several years they have worked successfully in partnership for other opera companies but felt the need to establish a company in their home county of Buckinghamshire.
Company principals are drawn from the graduating students of the leading British conservatoires. The company chorus is made up of talented local singers, some of whom, hopefully, will be pupils, staff and parents of Stowe School. In this way we hope to bring the joy of opera to a new generation of singers, while at the same time, bring opera to the opera loving audiences of Buckinghamshire.
Who we are
Our president: Simon Keenleyside
Simon is a British baritone who has had an active international career performing in operas and concerts since the mid-1980s.
He made his first appearance in a major operatic role in 1987 as Lescaut in Manon Lescaut at the Royal Northern College of Music. The Richard Tauber prize, which he won in 1986, allowed him to go to Salzburg for further study. His professional debut as a baritone came in 1988, at the Hamburg State Operaand his career went upwards from there.
A message from Simon:
The culture of exposing all young people to classical music of all sorts, from string quartets to opera, should not be the preserve of anyone. It is our common birthright: a wonderful and nourishing part of ordinary life for all of us.
From such a well-spring as Arcadian Opera may surely come the next batch of world-class singers. Who knows? Some of our even younger singers might just want to take this further and sing for their supper! But to do that they have to really want to do it: burn to do it! It certainly needs every ounce of discipline of body and soul that's for sure. But why not? A little hard work never hurt anyone!
Alison Marshall - Artistic Director
Alison Marshall initially trained for five years at the prestigious Tring Park School for the Performing Arts after which she studied for a further three years at the Royal Academy of Dancing. She then became a professional ballet dancer in Germany, rising to be a solo dancer, appearing in many of the favourite classical roles as well as several roles that were created especially for her. While there, ballet roles permitting, she would occasionally sing in the chorus of the opera company resident in the same theatre.
Justin Lavender - Musical Director
Justin Lavender was originally persuaded by Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten to abandon nuclear engineering for music. His international debut was as Nadir in Les Pêcheurs de Perlesat Sydney Opera House. This success led to engagements opera companies and orchestras throughout the world at the very highest levels. In 1990 he made debuts at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, singing the leading role of Arnold in Rossini’s spectacular masterpiece, Guillaume Tell, and at the Wiener Staatsoper as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte. His debut at La Scala, Milan, in the title role of Rossini’s Le Comte Ory came the following year, along with Demodokos in Dallapiccola’s Ulisse at the Salzburg Festival.