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Fiona Woolf DBE

Duncan Orr

(c) 2001, HappyDog Enterprises
Last Updated: 13/5/18



Summer 2018

Thaïs by Jules Massenet

When we first played Thaïs back in 1989, it was the first time that the Group had performed an opera by Massenet. Since then we have returned to him several times, most recently with Le roi de Lahore and we always enjoy his melodic gift and highly accomplished vocal and orchestral writing.

In the last thirty years Thaïs has remained on the fringes of the repertoire with occasional productions elsewhere, but it has not been heard in London since 2007 so we think another revival is overdue.

The most famous number in Thaïs is of course the Méditation for violin solo which helps to keep the name of the opera alive. Diana Cummings played it so beautifully in 1989 that we included it in the gala concert we gave to celebrate our 50th birthday in 2000. I’m delighted that Diana will once again perform this ravishing piece, a rare opportunity to hear it in context.

Three of the cast members are returning to COG after impressive debuts in recent concerts. Natasha Jouhl, who was Oksana in Christmas Eve earlier this season, takes the title role. She replaces Sally Silver who is indisposed. Michel de Souza sings the young monk Athanaël, another holy man to follow his High Priest of Dagon in Samson last season and after his triumphant Osiride in our recent Mosè, Nico Darmanin will sing Nicias.

Tickets are already on sale and can be booked through the Cadogan Hall website
Doors will open at 5pm.There will be a free pre-performance talk for all ticket holders at 5.45pm given by Simon Bainbridge.

Future Performances

The 2018 – 19 season opens on Saturday 27 October 2018, with Bellini’s masterpiece Norma, once again at Cadogan Hall. Helena Dix will sing the title role and will be joined by Elin Pritchard as Adalgisa. The conductor will be Dane Lam who was nominated for the Newcomer award at the 2018 International Opera Awards. Tickets will be available on the Cadogan Hall website shortly.

Next year, we return to the newly reopened Queen Elizabeth Hall for two concerts.
On Sunday 24 March 2019, for Boito’s Mefistofele conducted by Matthew Scott Rogers. Better known nowadays as Verdi’s librettist, Boito composed a spectacular version of Goethe’s Faust with extravagant choral and orchestral effects that can only be fully appreciated in a live performance. Then on Sunday 30 June 2019, Oliver Zeffman will conduct Rubinstein’s The Demon which we will perform in Russian. This is a new challenge for our chorus – the last time we gave a Russian opera in the original language the chorus was wordless, this time there will be words!

Tickets for both performances are now on sale:
Sunday 24 March 2019 – Mefistofele (Arrigo Boito), Queen Elizabeth Hall
Sunday 30 June 2019 – The Demon (Anton Rubinstein) Queen Elizabeth Hall

On 10 November, the orchestra will mark the centenary of the end of the First World War with a performance of Britten’s War Requiem in Salisbury Cathedral with Salisbury Musical Society and soloists Alwyn Mellor, Mark Wilde and Julien Van Mellaerts, conducted by David Halls.

Outside engagements like these are important in helping us to raise the funds needed to promote our London concert series, so we are always happy to receive invitations for the group to perform. Let us know if you have any ideas or contacts!

Keeping in touch

We receive no public subsidy and ticket sales do not cover our costs, so we are very grateful to our supporters who contribute so generously and make our concerts possible. New data protection regulations come into effect this May and will cover the personal information of our supporters and donors on the COG mailing list. To meet the new requirements, we will be contacting you soon to ask you to confirm that you would like to continue to hear about our performances via a link to the COG website which we will send you. Please do respond so that we can continue to contact you.

Join the COG Orchestra and Chorus!

If you have ever wondered how it feels to sing in an opera, why not consider joining our chorus?    Rehearsals are held in central London, normally over the five weeks before a performance, usually two evenings a week and one all-day weekend session. If you would like to know more contact us by emailing

Membership of the orchestra is by invitation, but we are always on the look-out for high quality players – especially double basses!!  If you are interested in finding out more or know someone who might be interested in playing with COG please let us know.

The best way to contact us is by emailing

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Duncan Orr

Supported by the Chelsea Opera Group Trust: Registered Charity Number 247438.
020 8675 2779:

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