The KIng’s Head Theatre has long been a champion of making opera accessible to everyone.
2018 has been a great year in opera for us! Following the nomination of La bohème for Best New Opera at the 2018 Olivier Awards, we have just been nominated for an Off West Award for La Traviata. Opera has been a huge part of the King’s Head Theatre programme since Opera Up Close became the resident company in 2010, and co-founder and joint Artistic Director Adam Spreadbury-Maher became the Artistic Director of the King’s Head Theatre. The opera we make in the King’s Head Theatre’s 110-seat theatre is very different from the opera you might see at the Royal Opera House or Opera Holland Park, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Our opera’s are all sung in English to make sure as many people possible can understand it and appreciate the beauty of the music of Verdi or Puccini or Bizet whilst understanding the narrative. The situations are all brought bang up to date too. For example, in La bohème, tuberculosis victim Mimi was changed to an East London heroin addict and in La Traviata, Violetta has been changed from a high class escort to a dancer who works in a strip club.
These changes have helped us bring in a much younger audience for opera, including first time opera-goers. One 20-something first-time attendee said of La Traviata: “I’d never seen opera and I was a bit nervous about how long it was. It completely blew me away! Their voices were so powerful and it was made all the better because I could follow the story and enjoy the drama”. This is what Adam Spreadbury-Maher wants to continue in creating small-scale opera “I think studio work is a great way to shift the goalposts. It’s a chance for audiences to discover opera for the first time without busting the bank balance and decide whether or not it’s for them. It’s how we’re going to create the audiences of the future”.
La Traviata runs until 27 October. Tickets.