Cooper Hall - Classical Music Venue
Opera at Cooper Hall
The development of opera at Cooper Hall was born out of our educational programme and workshops for emerging artists, Cooper Hall Emerging Artists Opera Workshop (CHEAOW). Our very first presentation was a selection of Opera Scenes as a result of a weekend workshop facilitated by our Creative Director, Morag McLaren in 2011.  Following the success of this seminal venture, we were fortunate to be approached by Bath Philharmonia, and as a result have collaboratively produced 2 in house operas with young professional singers.  We are currently working on another production for 2015 Frome Festival - full details will be posted early next year.

Coming from a both a performance and educational background, Morag approaches her role as Director very much from the singer's perspective: “Through my educational focus, and workshops on the creative process and integration, I combine exploring improvisation, playfulness, ensemble dynamics and physicality as tools for learning and performing an operatic role.”

Singers are invited to stay at Cooper Hall, which is based in the grounds of Selwood Manor, Frome, Somerset. Our “Creative Haven” offers peace, tranquility and seclusion within an inspiring woodland setting and allows performers to work intensively on the production, combining rehearsal time with workshops and holistic support from other “singing friendly” practitioners.

Living and working together in relaxed surroundings, the work on every production is focused and intensive. This allows the company to develop a unique bond, which naturally creates an exciting and supportive dynamic, ultimately reflected in the final production. Our vision is to provide opportunities for emerging artists in the early stages of their professional careers - to hone their performance skills and enable their personal development. In so doing, we hope to instil confidence and experience they can apply to future opportunities.

Opera Gallery
Cosi Fan Tutte
  Cosi Fan Tutte - NEW FOR 2015!
  This year, Mozart's much loved comic masterpiece, Cosi fan Tutte can be experienced in a beautiful, intimate setting in the grounds of Selwood Manor. Encompassing sublime music, love, lust, desire and deception, the opera os played out in a modern setting, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy.
  Opening in July 2015 as part of the Frome Festival
  View Event
The Turn of the Screw
  'The Turn of the Screw'
  In 2012 as part of Britten's Centenary we presented two performances of Turn of the Screw during the Frome Festival.

Morag felt Selwood Manor offered the ideal backdrop to stage a small scale production of The Turn of the Screw and would be the perfect opera with which to launch The Cooper Hall Emerging Artists Opera Workshop and make her debut as a director.

  View Programme PDF
The Turn of the Screw
  Hansel & Gretel

In 2013, Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel was performed twice during the Frome Festival, at Fishguard International Music Festival, and later in July, again at Cooper Hall.

We also extend opportunities into the local community for young people to get involved on the Stage Management side of our operas. In 2014 we offered a small bursary to support the studies of Aaron Veness who has just started a 3 year BA (Hons) course in Stage Management at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Aaron spent a month working with us during the summer of 2013 and was Stage Manager for our production of Hansel and Gretel.

We have been fortunate to receive huge support for our first productions from an enormous amount of people. We owe a debt of thanks to John Shirley Quirke (1931-2014) who gave our cast invaluable insight to Britten's Turn of the Screw and led a wonderful group workshop refining their text and working with them one to one. As a direct source to the work of Britten his knowledge, dry good humour and generosity of spirit was an absolute gift. In spite of failing health he presented a positively vigorous and life affirming masterclass here as part of Frome Festival that year.  He was due to return again in the summer of 2014, but sadly passed away that spring.

Also, thanks to Ash Khandakhar, Editor of Opera Now, who kindly wrote our programme notes for Hansel and Gretel and gave a free talk about the opera. He has been hugely enthusiastic and encouraging about us bringing opera to this rural corner of Somerset and introducing it to Frome Festival.

“Selwood, Land of Dreams!” quote from the cast of Turn of the Screw.


Opera Club
Season 2 2016-17

...with Ash Khandekar, Editor of Opera Now magazine, Cooper Hall Creative Director, Morag McLaren and Pianist David Price. A warm, friendly and accessible club which meets 4 times a year. For newcomers and aficionados alike who wish to gain new insights into this endlessly fascinating and engaging genre. CHOC also provides opportunities and supports young, professional singers at the early stages of their journey into the world of opera. Notification of the CHOC programme is sent out by e-newsletter prior to each event.

Event Dates for Opera Club Season 2
  1. 25 Sep 2016* - Rosa Mannion Masterclass
  2. 26 Jan 2017 - La Boheme
  3. 16 Mar 2017 - Christopher Gillet
  4. 8 Jun 2017 - Orfeu ed Euridice

*Please note, this meeting is on a Sunday. Meeting nights are usually a Thursday.

Orfeu ed Euridice
Thursday 8 June (Doors 7.30 Start 8pm)
After the presentation of Handel opera at our last meeting, we move on to explore a change in style for our next opera club when we look in detail at Gluck's opera based on the myth of Orfeus.

Hosted by Morag, with invaluable explanations about the music by David Price at the piano; we also welcome back counter tenor, Keith Pun and soprano Daisy Brown to sing excerpts from Gluck's most popular and influential operas.

Tickets: £12.50 (non-members)
CHOC logo

Opera Club membership is £45 for FOUR EVENTS. If you book mid-season, then your booking will roll over to the next season (4 events per season/year)
£12.50 for individual events as a non-member.

Please click the link below to join the club and reserve your seat for all four events. Places are limited.
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