Photo, Denis Sinyakov

Announcing the return of Opera in Song including a public masterclass and concert in celebration of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa’s 80th birthday

Curated by baritone Julien Van Mellaerts and pianist Dylan Perez, the Opera in Song recital series returns to Opera Holland Park for a fourth year, with three recitals from established and emerging singers and pianists, a public masterclass with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, and a concert in celebration of Dame Kiri’s 80th birthday with performances by artists who have been supported by the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation since its creation in 2004.

From the first series of concerts in the summer of 2021, Opera in Song has explored the commonalities and contrasts between opera and the song recital, partnering established artists with up-and-coming talent, and finding new ways to explore character and stories. Since the series’ inception, it has been generously supported by the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation. 

This season Opera in Song celebrates this relationship with a public masterclass by Dame Kiri with the Opera Holland Park Young Artists, and a Gala Concert on 20 June to mark Dame Kiri’s 80th birthday, the 20th anniversary of her foundation, and World Refugee Day. 

The Opera in Song series will continue at Opera Holland Park on 18, 20 and 21 July with performances by artists including Harriet Burns, Nicky Spence, Julien Van Mellaerts, former BBC Radio Three New Generation Artists Helen Charlston and Benjamin Appl, the Opera Holland Park Young Artists, and pianists Dylan Perez and Ian Tindale. 

Repertoire includes songs by composers from Rebecca Clarke to Noel Coward and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Haydn’s dramatic scena Arianna a Naxos, Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -Leben, the world premiere of Oded Zehavi’s Songs of the Sea, and a cocktail hour selection of comic songs by Stephen Sondheim, Tom Lehrer, Victoria Wood and others.

Opera in Song is thankful for the ongoing support of all supporters and partners, particularly the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation, the Sickle Foundation, and Steinway and Sons Pianos London. Their charity of choice this year is Refugee Action UK and they will be raising funds for them at each of the recitals and including a percentage of box office takings.

On the return of Opera in Song, CEO and Director of Opera James Clutton notes “In these tough times for the arts, what a pleasure it is to have been able to help the two fabulous artists (and now producers) Julien Van Mellaerts and Dylan Perez establish an exciting new song recital series over the last four years.

With invaluable support from the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation, Julien and Dylan created and curated Opera in Song – a new twist on the song recital series idea that has already firmly established itself in the minds of the Opera Holland Park audience.

It is a great privilege to have Dame Kiri with us in person this summer and to celebrate the 80th birthday of this legendary and beloved performer with a masterclass and gala concert as part of Opera in Song. As a celebration of quality and Dame Kiri’s commitment to developing talent, the events at Opera Holland Park on 20 June 2024 will be unmissable.”

A Masterclass with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa 3.30pm, 20 June 2024

Celebrated for her luminous portrayals of Mozart, Strauss and Verdi heroines across a nearly fifty year career, the legendary lyric soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa shares a lifetime of experience in opera and concert with members of the 2024 cohort of Opera Holland Park Young Artists, working on repertoire of their choice. This public masterclass offers a fascinating insight into the private discipline of preparing to perform in public, addressing technical and interpretive questions and building the resilience needed by those at the start of their careers.

A Gala Concert for Dame Kiri Te Kanawa 7.30pm, 20 June 2024

With anecdotes and reflections on her career from the Dame herself, we celebrate her 80th birthday in a Gala Concert featuring performances by alumni of the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation who have been so generously supported over the years. Artists include Thomas Atkins (last seen at Opera Holland Park as Lensky in Eugene Onegin, 2022), Claire Barnett-Jones, Madison Nonoa, Phillip Rhodes, Madeleine Boreham (Opera Holland Park Young Artist, 2023) , Samson Setu and Julien Van Mellaerts, with Gary Matthewman on the piano. 

Ballads and Legends, 7pm, 18 July

Mezzo-soprano Helen Charlston, baritone Julien Van Mellaerts and pianist Dylan Perez explore the human relationship with the sea in songs and duets by Charles Stanford, Rebecca Clarke, Carl Loewe, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Paolo Tosti, and Haydn’s dramatic scena Arianna a Naxos. The programme includes the world premiere of Oded Zehavi’s Songs of the Sea, a sequence of songs commissioned by Julien Van Mellaerts, with lyrics by the New Zealand poet Bill Manhire, the British poet Laura Attridge, and the French poet Claire Simon. 

Frauenliebe und -Leben, 3pm, 20 July 

Internationally acclaimed as an art song recitalist, Benjamin Appl makes his Opera in Song debut in concert with soprano Harriet Burns and pianist Ian Tindale. In Robert Schumann’s song cycle Frauenliebe und -Leben, written in 1830, voice and piano capture snapshots from life of an unnamed woman from courtship to marriage, motherhood and widowhood. This programme adds other voices to her journey with duets, songs and folk songs in English and German by Clara Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Liza Lehmann, Rebecca Clarke and others. 

Comedy and Cabaret, 6pm, 21 July

Something familiar, something peculiar, something for everyone! Nicky Spence, Dylan Perez and the Opera Holland Park Young Artists invite you to join them at cocktail hour for an evening of words, music and satire by Noel Coward, Stephen Sondheim, Victoria Wood, Tom Lehrer and many more, to toast the close of the fourth series of Opera in Song in style.

Booking Information 

General booking opens on Wednesday 6 March, 10am

Priority booking for Opera Holland Park Jubilee Society, Major Donors, Founders, Benefactors, Ambassadors and Envoys opens on Wednesday 7 February, 10am

Priority booking for Opera Holland Park Gold Members opens on Wednesday 14 February, 10am

Priority booking for Opera Holland Park Silver Members opens on Wednesday 21 February, 10am