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Fiona Woolf DBE

Duncan Orr

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Last Updated: 11/5/19



Summer 2019

Rubinstein’s The Demon

Queen Elizabeth Hall Sunday 30th June 2019 at 6:30pm

Our next concert is Anton Rubinstein’s ‘Fantastic Opera’ The Demon. Rubinstein was one of the greatest piano virtuosos of the 19th century and a prolific composer who wrote twenty operas as well as instrumental music and songs. Nowadays he is remembered for the well-known Melody in F and as Tchaikovsky’s orchestration teacher at the St Petersburg conservatory. The Demon is based on a poem by Lermontov and contains some of his best music. It was his most successful opera during his life but has since slipped out of the repertoire outside Russia.

The cast is headed by Andrei Kymach as the eponymous anti-hero. He is taking part in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition just before joining us, so depending on how far he progresses; we have been warned that he may be a little late for our rehearsals! The Romance from The Demon has featured several times at Cardiff in the past, I wonder if Andrei will sing it this year?

Anush Hovhannisyan returns to COG as Tamara, the object of the Demon’s amorous intentions. Since her spectacular debut with us in Le roi de Lahore, she has had a great success as Violetta for Welsh National Opera and she returns to Wales next season as Hélène in Les vêpres siciliennes. The conductor for this performance will be Oliver Zeffman and the other cast members are Angela Simkin, Giorgi Sturua, Barnaby Rea, Yvonne Howard, Graeme Broadbent and John Findon.

There will be a pre-performance talk at 5.15pm by Erin McHugh in the Queen Elizabeth Hall which is free to ticket holders.

Please help us to publicise this concert. Chelsea Opera Group relies on income from the box office for its survival. Please consider how you can help either by buying tickets yourself, recommending The Demon to friends and colleagues or posting details of the concert on social media.

Boito’s Mefistofele

We would probably have thought twice about attempting this opera again if we had remembered more clearly what was involved. In the event the large orchestra including organ, chorus, children’s chorus and offstage brass all came together for an exciting performance under the baton of Matt Scott Rogers. The audience was large and enthusiastic which contributed to the success and we received many appreciative reviews.

Playing and choral singing had tremendous conviction – The Guardian.

The account of Arrigo Boito’s Mefistofele, unstaged in London since English National Opera’s 1999 production, was one of COGs finest – The Sunday Times.

Orchestrally, the performance was very strong – Classical Source.

2019-20 Season

Unusually, all the operas next season are by Italian composers. We open the season at Cadogan Hall on Saturday 12th October with Verdi’s Un giorno di regno (King for a Day) conducted by Tom Seligman. This is Verdi’s second opera and his only comedy before Falstaff.

We return to the Queen Elizabeth Hall on Saturday 28th March for a rare performance of Pizzetti’s Murder in the Cathedral (Assassinio nella cattedrale) based on TS Eliot’s play about Henry II’s murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket. It was premiered at La Scala in 1958, and will be a rare excursion into the 20th century for COG. Sir John Tomlinson will sing Becket, conducted by Martyn Brabbins. They have performed the piece together before in Frankfurt and are looking forward to reviving it in London.

On Saturday 27th June 2020, we will round off our ‘Monarchy’ season with Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux. Helena Dix stars as Elizabeth I and Dane Lam returns to conduct. After their electrifying performance of Norma, this should be an exciting evening.

Tickets for Un giorno di regno are available now from the Cadogan Hall website and box office. Tickets for both the 2020 concerts at the QEH are also available now on the Southbank Centre website and from the box office.

New Chairman

Regular readers will remember I announced recently I would be stepping down as Chairman in June 2020. I am delighted that Stefan Terry, who has played bass trombone with us for many years, has agreed to take over from me. I am sure that the future of the group is secure in his hands. We shall be working closely together over the next year to ensure that the transition is as seamless as possible.

If you would like to become involved in running the group and want to know more about what is involved, please contact me or another member of the committee.

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.
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