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Oliver Gooch Talks about Opera East

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Oliver Gooch founded Opera East Productions in 1999 and it has grown to become the touring opera company for the East of England. Following very successful productions of Britten's chamber operas in Orford, Suffolk, OEP now stages productions, educational initiatives, concerts and galas across the East of England and beyond. The company has been described as "deserving to be an opera company of national significance". Recent productions have included, besides the Britten works, Mozart's da Ponte operas and, most recently, an acclaimed production of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress.

The artistic aims have four key areas – commissioning new works, historically-aware productions of lesser known 17th and 18th century operas, operas for and with children and the key repertory pieces. Current and future plans include a world première at the Linbury Theatre, Royal Opera House in 2011 of Tarik O'Regan's Heart of Darkness, an extensive tour of Haydn's Il mondo della luna to celebrate the composer's bicentenary and a gala with the Southbank Sinfonia and Young Artists from the Royal Opera House in the presence of Dame Janet Baker.

Opera East is funded through the Foundation for Sport and the Arts, the John Lyon's Charity and a number of smaller trusts. Singers are selected according to the repertoire through auditions and most of the orchestra has now been playing together for a decade. Stage directors are selected depending on the production, the budget and the specific repertoire.OEP's name has spread fast over the past five years and the company now receives many requests from across the UK to perform at regional theatres, music societies and one-off events.

Gooch says that "We would like to bring the focus of our work back to the Eastern region. We would like to support and nurture regional talent and we would like to develop various relationships with other opera and production comanies. Our most recent collaboration has been with American Opera Projects, New York who are partnering us to develop our new chamber opera Heart of Darkness which has already been performed in workshops on both sides of the Atlantic" (in the UK for OperaGenesis and ROH2 and in the US with Glimmerglass and Jonathan Miller).

Oliver Gooch is one of an exciting generation of young conductors. For two years from 2004 he was appointed Assistant Conductor on the Royal Opera House Young Artists Programme in a post specially created for him. There he made his début with the Opera House Orchestra on the main stage in 2006 and conducted for the Royal Ballet's triple bill of Tombeaux, Enigma Variations and The Rite of Spring.

He has worked regularly on the music staff at Glyndebourne (Die Zauberflöte, Albert Herring, Il nozze di Figaro) and this season will be chorus master for Purcell's The Fairy Queen. In 2004 he was appointed as music director of Iford Festival Opera (Rusalka, Lucia di Lammermoor and L'elisir d'amore) and also for Stanley Hall Opera (L'elisir d'amore and Verdi's early comedy Un giorno di regno).

Recent engagements include the Buxton Festival (Riders to the Sea), the US première of Janacek's Sarka at Dicapo Opera Theater, New York, Opera North (I Capuleti e i Montecchi) and the National Opera Studio's Christmas Showcase. Forthcoming work, besides OEP's Il mondo della Luna, includes Eugène Onegin (Iford Arts), The Excursions of Mr Broucek (Opera North), concerts with Scottish Opera and a new touring production of Don Giovanni in Lombardy for the Associazione Lirica e Concertistica Italiana.

Oliver Gooch was educated at Magdalene College, Cambridge and trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the National Opera Studio. He studied conducting at the Tanglewood Festival under Robert Spano and Seiji Ozawa, and was subsequently nominated for the prestigious Rolex/Mentor Protégé Arts Initiative in Geneva under Sir Colin Davis. In 2006 he was awarded the Clore Fellowship for the East of England, a special one year progamme designed to nurture a new generation of cultural leaders.

- Anne Morley-Priestman


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