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Beyond the Ring at Longborough: A sneak peek into the future

Looking ahead to our 2025 season, which will include the UK premiere of Wahnfried Avner Dorman's opera about the Wagner family - and a new production of Debussy's post-Wagnerian masterpiece Pelléas et Mélisande, Longborough's Artistic Director Polly Graham talks about these works, and their relationship with the oeuvre of Richard Wagner. Polly will be joined by conductor Justin Brown, and Ring cycle conducting fellow Harry Sever, who will also offer illustrations of the exquisite orchestral interludes from Pelléas

Internationally acclaimed dramatic soprano Rachel Nicholls, who last appeared at Longborough in our celebrated production of Die tote Stadt, will sing from Debussy's Proses lyriques, an excerpt from Dorman's opera Wahnfried, a song from Korngold's Abschiedslieder and the famous Mariettas Lautenlied from Die tote Stadt.

Programme includes:

Korngold:  Abschiedslieder: No. 3 “Mond, so gehst du wieder auf”

Debussy: Proses lyriques:  No. 1 “De rêve”

Dorman: Wahnfried: Act 1 Scene 9

Korngold: Die tote Stadt - Mariettas Lautenlied

This event is part of Between the Ring, our standalone series of exciting events designed to fit around our Ring cycle. You don’t need a ticket to the Ring to book for these events.


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Rachel Nicholls is now widely recognised as one of the most exciting dramatic sopranos of her generation.  

Following her debut at London’s Royal Opera as Third Flowermaiden/ Parsifal, she has sung a wide repertoire of baroque, classical and contemporary repertoire in opera and concert throughout the UK and Europe, including the Edinburgh Festival and BBC Proms, and forged a close relationship with Masaaki Suzuki and Bach Collegium Japan, with whom she made several recordings. Other conductors with whom she has worked include Sir Colin Davis, Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Mark Elder, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Roger Norrington, Richard Hickox, Valery Gergiev, Daniele Gatti and Gianandrea Noseda.

She first came to notice as a dramatic soprano with her highly acclaimed performances as Brünnhilde for Longborough Festival Opera, culminating in complete Ring Cycles in 2013, followed by Isolde / Tristan und Isolde in 2014.  In 2013 she sang Senta / Die fliegende Hollander for Scottish Opera and in 2014 Leonore / Fidelio for the Bergen National Opera. (read more)

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Justin Brown studied at Cambridge University and at Tanglewood, later becoming an assistant to both Leonard Bernstein and Luciano Berio. 

Internationally acclaimed in both the symphonic and operatic repertoire, Mr. Brown is Music Director Laureate of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra in the United States and served as Music Director of the Badisches Staatstheater in Karlsruhe from 2008 to 2020. He has been critically acclaimed for his performances of the Karlsruhe Ring cycle between 2015 and 2018, working with four different directors. He commissioned and gave the world premiere of Avner Dorman’s first opera Wahnfried, which was hailed as a masterpiece by the opera press worldwide and nominated for an International Opera Award in 2018. As guest conductor, he has worked with many of the world’s top orchestras and opera houses, including the London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, Finnish Radio Symphony, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Dresden Philharmonic, Cincinatti and Dallas Symphony Orchestras; the Bayerische Staatsoper Munich, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Oper Frankfurt, Grand Théâtre de Genève, La Monnaie, and Santa Fe Opera.

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Opera and theatre director Polly Graham is Artistic Director of Longborough Festival Opera and Founder and Artistic Director of Loud Crowd. A recipient of the Independent Opera Director Fellowship 2016, Graham’s productions have won Best Opera Production in the Wales Theatre Awards in both 2017 and 2018; she was nominated in the Newcomer category of the 2017 International Opera Awards and for the Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist Award 2017. 

Graham directed the world première of Olga Neuwirth’s Orlando for the Vienna State Opera, Pierangelo Valtinoni’s Il Piccolo Principe at La Scala and staged Frank Martin’s Le Vin Herbé for Welsh National Opera and Theater St Gallen and Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria for Longborough Festival Opera.

Recent seasons have seen her directing diverse repertoire such as Dido & Aeneas for Blackheath Halls Community Opera, Die Zauberflöte for the Royal College of Music as well as Bloom Brittania, a new community opera by Orlando Gough and Stephen Plaice.

Polly Graham read English at Trinity College, Dublin and completed an M.A. in Text and Performance at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Whilst a student she gained experience with the Santa Cruz Shakespeare Festival, Streetwise Opera, Teatr Pieśń Kosła and Le Théâtre du Soleil.

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BBC Music Magazine ‘Rising Star’ conductor Harry Sever studied at Oxford University and trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Royal Academy of Music. A finalist in both the LSO’s Donatella Flick and the Athens International Conducting Competitions, recent and upcoming engagements include Cavalleria Rusticana / Aleko (Opera North), Siegfried (Sønderjyllands Symfoniorkester / Den Ny Opera), Carmen (Opera North), Fantasio (Garsington), La traviata (Opera Holland Park); concerts with the orchestra of Welsh National Opera and recordings with the orchestra of Opera North.

He is currently the Ring Cycle Conducting Fellow at Longborough Festival Opera, and Music Director of the Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus. 

As an Assistant Conductor and member of music staff, Harry has worked with Scottish Opera, Opera North, Kammerakademie Potsdam, English National Opera, the Royal Danish Opera, Den Jyske Opera, Garsington, Opera Holland Park, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra at the Grange Festival, and the Britten Sinfonia at Sadler’s Wells. His education work has included projects with The Royal Opera House Covent Garden, The Royal Opera Academy, Copenhagen, British Youth Opera, Birmingham Conservatoire and Trinity Laban Conservatoire.

Lfo23 Fairy Queen Event London Nov 22 Cr Matthew Williams Ellis 25

between the ring

See more about our series of events around each cycle, between performance days.