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Fiona Woolf DBE

Sue Benjamins

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Last Updated: 16/1/21


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Chelsea Opera Group



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Message from the Chairman

What a year! And what a disappointment as the year closes with more complications about the type of virus. Sudden restrictions on what we had all intended for the few days of Christmas and New Year will no doubt be causing anxiety and sadness for many of COG’s supporters, and I share with you that disappointment. Some, no doubt, will also be relieved that stronger rules are now in force. The fact is that getting a performance, LIVE, on stage does not look any easier than it did nine months ago. But you, our regular audience, will know that we have kept busy all year making plans, booking guest singers and keeping our musical skills up to scratch, all so that we can be ready to spring into action the moment rules are lifted.

It has been immensely disappointing to cancel several productions during 2020, sometimes at very short notice, and we have been very grateful for the understanding and patience of COG’s supporters. Singers and orchestra players are doing their best to maintain our playing and singing skills with regular practice often over Zoom, and the committee members who organise events have not been idle. Real meetings, which have been banned most of the year, were quickly replaced by digital on-screen sessions (with extra training to learn how to use it). Close contact has been maintained with our guest conductors and soloists to ensure no-one was out of touch.

We are determined to keep plans moving and to be ready to move COG into the year 2021, performing again with a live audience as soon as we are able. We have exciting plans for productions next year, with lyrical 19th century Italian work very much emphasised to get us all energised again but with the edginess of later works, and other languages, also in the mix. Ideas for 2022 are already being brewed! Details of proposed programmes will be held back until we get some idea of what will be possible. We had to cancel so much work during 2020 that I do not wish to raise hopes too early. We have halls booked already to the end of 2021; draft programmes and some soloists provisionally reserved. We will be flexible, changing venue and programme if that means we have a better chance to achieving performance, depending how Government rules develop.

What I can tell you with certainty is that we have not been asleep. Much will happen with COG as soon as we are released. Having plans ready-to-go means we can move swiftly. So do not be downhearted.

While we are waiting, and planning, I hope all of us can find enjoyment and fulfilment at this special time of year. Please accept my very best wishes to you for a subdued but nevertheless Happy Christmas, and I hope you are looking forward, as I am, to getting back together, in full force, as early as possible in 2021.     

With best wishes
Sue Benjamins
Chairman, Chelsea Opera Group.




Cadogan Hall
Saturday 24th April 2021

***Rescheduled from 20th February - see below***


Planning with determined optimism continues into 2021 despite the disappointments last year. All music making is in the same boat but you can be confident that Chelsea Opera Group is in the forefront of having arrangements in place to start performances again as soon as we are able. Our partners in this, at Cadogan Hall, have helped enormously with detailed protocols for social distancing, hygiene measures and building effective communications with ticketholders. The latest situation is as follows:-

20th February 2021 –concert, moved from last November, has had to be POSTPONED again due to Lockdown 3. A lovely mixed repertoire of arias and ensembles, with four soloists and orchestra, we intend to offer this in April if rules are relaxed by then.

Saturday 24th April 2021 – concert Make Opera Live Again at Cadogan Hall. Tickets on sale in due course.

Late June 2021 – the early summer event will be an OPERA at last, if we get relief from the present rules. Planning for this has to stay flexible for the moment, as want to keep options open until Government plans become clear but please pencil in your diaries for a full opera (concert version) and full orchestra on what we hope will be a sunny, relaxed, weekend evening in late June!

Thank you for your continuing support and enthusiasm for Chelsea Opera Group in this often-gloomy period. Our planning meetings continue in the background and your questions and suggestions are welcome at any time – just because you cannot see us doesn’t mean we are not thinking about you all! 

Good wishes, from Sue Benjamins, Chairman

The Chelsea Opera Group holds a unique place in the history of British opera. ....' (&London magazine). Read the full article (pdf)which appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of &London magazine produced by Sunday Publishing for UK property partnership Strutt and Parker.

‘Chelsea Opera Group’s three concert performances a year are among London’s most joyful operatic events.’ Richard Nicholson  at Classical Source

"As for Elizabeth Woods, it is hard to provide a technical commentary to her nigh-on-perfect performance." (Mariana Romani reviewing Simon Boccanegra at MusicalCriticism.com). See Elizabeth Woods in Come in quest`ora bruna.

"Opera simply does not come much better than this: the Chelsea Opera Group’s concert performance of Verdi’s Macbeth was an unqualified triumph." (Evan Dickerson at Seen and Heard)

‘A great work superbly done. The conductor was Richard Bonynge...There was fine playing and choral singing.’ Tim Ashley in The Guardian  reviewing COG’s performance of Donizetti’s Belisario.

For forthcoming performances see Future Concerts

For booking information see Box Office page

For links to complete reviews of recent performances see Reviews.

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