Weekend Opera Workshops grew out of a conversation between the conductor Orlando Jopling and horn player Jon Cooley in February 2019 on the train through South London following their involvement in a performance of Act 3 of Die Walkure. Mutual enthusiasm for Wagner, Janacek and Bruckner inspired a loose concept to establish an organisation to promote high quality amateur events devoted mainly to those composers. Several months and numerous conversations later, incorporating the singers Zoe South and Nicola Ihnatowicz, the model snapped into focus.
Weekend Opera Workshops was finally established in March 2020, gaining registration with the Charity Commission as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation in July of that year. Unfortunately the Covid Pandemic led to the project being placed in the freezer for a year, with the first two workshops being held in July and October 2021 at Dulwich College.
Its formal objectives are ‘to advance, improve, develop and maintain public education in, and appreciation of, the art and science of music in all its aspects by any means the Trustees see fit, including through the presentation of public concerts and workshops’.
The primary method of delivering this as the title might suggest is by running three workshops per year focusing mainly on the composers previously referenced. One of the early intentions was to work our way through the Ring cycle, and by the end of 2023 we had successfully completed the first two acts of Siegfried. Our planned Bruckner cycle commenced in July 2022 with his 6th Symphony.
Our workshops are informal gatherings of musicians from across the country who are committed to rehearsing this repertoire to a high standard. There is a roster of superb singers coached by Orlando and fixed by Zoe. Each workshop concludes with a full run-through of the piece, to which an audience is invited. We have been fortunate in being able to play in the superb environment of Dulwich College.