Nevill Holt Hall to build permanent 400-seat opera venue in Leicestershire

A Leicestershire opera festival has unveiled plans to build a permanent 400-seat home in the grounds of a country mansion.

Nevill Holt Opera wants to convert a grade II-listed stable block at Nevill Holt Hall into a fully equipped theatre, complete with an orchestra pit and spacious backstage facilities.

The company says its current home, a temporary scaffold structure in the stables courtyard, is “inadequate and beyond effective economic repair”, being too small and lacking facilities for audiences and performers.

It claims the new venue will help make the East Midlands “a destination for the arts”, as well as enabling it to stage a longer, seven-week festival season.

Artistic director Nicholas Chalmers said: “For four years, Nevill Holt Opera has been staging the highest quality productions in its intimate stable-yard theatre. The prospect of a new opera house to support this excellent work is such an exciting development, and would help promote the East Midlands as a destination for the arts.”

Nevill Holt Opera was founded in 2013, with a commitment to developing the talent of young opera singers. It stages a four-week festival of opera every summer, in addition to the community and education programmes it runs for the rest of the year.

Outside the summer season, it is hoped the new building could be let out to local schools and groups to use for productions and concerts.

The Nevill Holt country estate is owned by businessman David Ross, a patron and co-founder of the opera company. A planning application submitted to the council for the new theatre is in his name, while the opera company said he made a significant donation towards the project. The total amount remains undisclosed.

General manager Rosenna East added that the company wanted to “continue to deliver live opera of exceptional quality, in this unique and stunning Leicestershire setting”.

In the meantime, the company’s 2017 summer season will go ahead as planned, with full details to be announced in October.

Article re-published from The Stage, 19 August 2016