What they say

Review Opera Minima final fling 

October 27 ~ Great Easton Village Hall

Opera Minima's artistic director Gillian Leftwich certainly pulled out all the stops for the Opera Minima Final Fling (Great Easton Village Hall, 29 October) with a fabulous team of singers and music director Nicholas Bosworth at the piano. Leftwich devised a glorious programme of OM excerpts from the past 17 years. 


The ensemble singing  was slick (highlights: the awakening scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hansel & Gretel duet, Lakmé duet and the  duet from Don Carlo) and the rapport between the singers was clear (highlights: Confrontation Scene from Maria Stuarda and Toreador Song). Costumes were simple and effective, the transformations often subtly part of the scene change such as the Entr’acte from Carmen. Disparate arias were cleverly linked by Leftwich's deft introductions.


Donna Bateman is the queen of characterisation and beguiling expressions, from wide-eyed boy to sensuous temptress, from haughty monarch to impassioned Tatyana. During Belinda Evans' Sandman, you could almost hear the golden dust falling as she lullabied the frightened Hansel & Gretel to sleep, in contrast to the pleading Song to the Moon. Rebecca Moon’s pure high voice and elegance were perfect for Gaia and Marble Halls. The anguish was palpable in Lensky's aria sung by Joe Morgan. Philip Smith's rich baritone voice is complemented by his acting, convincing equally as blundering Dandini, debonair Figaro and forlorn Billy Budd.


Bosworth extracted shimmering violins, brass fanfares and brooding basses from the piano to great dramatic effect, (highlights: Tabarro and Tatyana's Letter Song), and Britten’s Sea interludes and Songs without words were delightful. Billy Budd's heart-rending lament was pricked by distant plaintive pipes, played by Sam Christie. 

The only criticism is that, after the two further performances on 29 and 30 October in OM's Old Corset Factory home, it is to be OM's Final Fling.


J Berman ~ independent London critic

Last night messages from far and near

*      From US – OM always felt like a family to me…making a show happen together

*      Gillian has given everything to OM, creating many a wonderful opportunity to prepare and perform dream roles. Her love of the music and admiration for what it takes to be a singer is why everyone loves working for her.

*      I will always remember OM’s Magic Flute with a smile. Such a warm, happy company.

*      All the very best to the nicest woman in the business.

*      From Germany - Many thanks for the wonderful time I had a few years back.

*      From ON – OM is not just a wonderful company, it’s a family I am proud to have been a member of.

*      From Norway - I would not have the career I have today without [OM’s Artistic Director’s] faith in my abilities. She offered me my first gig,  trusted me to write my first script  and run my first workshop and direct my first opera.

*      Since I first met Gill over 10 years ago … I always regard OM as home from home.

*      Fond memories indeed of some wonderful music making and warm hospitality

*      I was an OM virgin until 2016 ..  the sheer  va va voom of all concerned is astonishing.

*      I feel so fortunate to have taken part in one of your productions and gained so much experience while doing so.

*      …many excellent opportunities you have afforded young and emerging singers.

*      Auditioning successfully for Opera Minima really boosted my selfconfidence and encouraged me to keep singing professionally.

*      Gillian’s creativity, exuberance and sense of fun made OM a delightful company to work for.

OMff artists

*       To me Opera Minima has become synonymous with good music, good food, great company and lots of laughter. Your generosity in letting us take over your house is remarkable and inspiring.
It has been a privilege to have been involved over the years and particularly to have been invited to take part in the Final Fling.

*      What can I say but thank you for 16 years of lovely music. Thanks also for the opportunity to hone my skills as a musical director.

*      Thank you for giving me my first ever paid operatic job and making me realise that this is indeed what I wanted to be doing with my life.

*      Thank you so much for the wonderful opportunities you have given me … I will always remember Rainforest and dear Martin Read

*      Thank you so much for the wonderful opportunities… over the years. I have loved every second of working for Opera Minima.

*      So delighted to be part of this fantastically well-oiled machine that is Opera Minima. You are an inspiration.

*      Thank you for all the opportunities and memories, memories that will live for ever.

Audience   OMff

*      Thank you for the many happy hours with Opera Minima over the years

*      …  you have achieved so much over the years, bringing culture and pleasure to so many, young and old..

*      Beautiful concerts, interesting company and delicious dinners have all been highlights over the years and I, like many others, am going to miss theses occasions.

*      I am really sad not to be able to be with you for the last performance of Opera Minima, the musically distinguished and artistically vibrant opera company which you created.

*      Thank you for producing so many years of entertainment in such style.

Mozart Gala 2016

from an audience member June 11 in OCF

What a truly marvellous evening we enjoyed with you at the Old Corset Factory on Saturday. Many congratulations on such a sparkling and wonderful performance. Every time we attend, we enjoy the experiance enormously, but this was even more splendid  then ever!

from J Berman (freelance London-based critic)

Mozart Opera Gala – a miscellany of arias and ensembles by Opera Minima

11th June 2016 in the Old Corset Factory, Great Easton


A scrumptious cornucopia of arias, duets and ensembles from Flute to Figaro, fröhlich to furioso, frolicking to fearsome


Opera Minima’s Mozart Opera Gala was an evening of energetic stage antics, stunning singing, glorious music, and characters exiting through one door only to emerge through a different door as a different character in a different costume singing in a different language.


Highlights: The exquisite letter duet between Susanna and Countess (Marriage of Figaro) was perfect for the well-matched beautiful voices of Donna Bateman and Belinda Evans. Later, as Dorabella and Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), they were hilariously seduced by the ‘imposters’ after the meltingly evocative ‘Soave sia il vento’ trio.


In Sarastro’s aria ‘In diesen heiligen Hallen’ (Magic Flute), you could have heard a pin drop as Adam Leftwich processed sedately to back stage with no problem projecting his deep voice to the back of the audience. Joe Morgan’s Tamino was majestic with his honeyed tones, glittering robe and magic flute (played off stage by Sam Christie). Six-foot tall Philip Smith was utterly convincing in his endearing portrayal of shy little Papageno. The ‘Wo bin ich wohl’ duet between Monostatos (Joe Morgan) and Papageno, where each is equally scared of the ‘devil’ opposite, was slick, and the saucy twist in the rousing finale absolutely brought the house down.


Nicholas Bosworth, as ever, competently recreated the atmosphere of a full pit orchestra while all sorts of mayhem swirled around him, and Gillian Leftwich stitched it all together with her concise scene-setting. The delicious supper by Options Catering and signature piano-top bar rounded off the whole lively treat. Bravo Opera Minima! 

J Berman

Don Pasquale  

 Audience member P1 OCF

Such a great success! [Everyone] perfect for their roles – beautifully sung but wonderful acted too. Nicholas’ playing was fantastic; a truly marvellous production. …None of this would happen without your devotion, commitment and amazing work in [fund] raising, seeking new talent … and bringing it all together to provide rich entertainment

Audience member P2 Medbourne

I have enjoyed all the OM shows I have attended, but think that Don Pasquale is the one I have enjoyed the most, probably because it is inherently light-hearted and hilarious.  The cast did it so well, the singing of a very high standard and perfect comic timing.  Sue is to be heartily congratulated not only for her adaptation to suit the limitations of OM but also for her direction of the performance with her trademark features of a dream scene and puppetry.  What a clever girl she is!

Audience member P3 OCF

thank you, thank all your brilliant cast, your front of house team and the wonderful cooks!  
We had the most memorable evening at Don Pasquale. Our thoughts were transported to a wonderful world of make- believe. The opera was such fun, such a dotty story but made so realistic in that intimate situation.
We are so impressed with the organisation of Opera Minima.

From Music at Dingley (P4)

many thanks for an excellent evening last night.   What a marvellous production and much enjoyed by everyone in the audience.   It was wonderful to have such great music under our ears and be able to see and hear without straining.  We are still humming the tunes.

So many smiling faces on the way out.  A tribute to a great evening.

Audience member P4 Dingley

I did enjoy Don Pasquale at Dingley enormously.   Brilliantly staged – and what voices!   And the housekeeper nearly stole the show with her acting;  how lucky we had the impeccable Nicholas Bosworth to keep it all together! 

Review of Opera Minima’s Spring Festival April 2015

J Berman, Freelance Music Critic

Well, Opera Minima certainly knows how to surprise and charm its audiences. The Spring Festival was fresh, vibrant, varied and life-affirming.  

Opera Stringalong lived up to its beguiling promise of opera as you’ve never heard it before. Between David Gordon on piano, David le Page on violin and Nick Stringfellow on cello, the best loved opera melodies were repackaged with their own jazz rhythms, clever harmonisations, virtuosic runs and even beatbox accompaniment. The final Carmen Fantasy whipped the audience up into a frenzy and left us wanting more.  

Songs and Dances was stunning from the moment both men walked on stage, suave and commanding in their tails. Adam Leftwich’s luscious grounded bass voice quite literally raised the dead, made easy work of florid Purcell and Handel before melting the audience with Christopher Robin’s little songs. Nicholas Bosworth never ceases to delight with his sensitive accompaniment and equally capable solo-playing – the three Shostakovich dances were exquisite. 

Swan Song was glorious. The glamorous Abigail Kelly and ever-game Nicholas Bosworth gave a polished energetic cabaret of tap dance, jazz dance, singing two very different arias interwoven with each other and well-paced narration that had us hanging on every word. We belly-laughed, fawned, cried (even the men) and cheered, as Kelly deftly leapt between scenes in the slick witty script expertly crafted by Susan Moore, while Bosworth provided scene-stealing foreign-accented characters from the piano. 

Opera Minima, there is nothing minimal about the thrills you dish up.

The Magic Flute

"... this was the best ever set of singers, ... and they could act! The set was most imaginatively created and the use of puppets was a masterstroke, definitely to be repeated!."
"I couldn’t imagine how you could produce such a complicated opera in such a small space, and only two hours – but it did work, and it was outstanding.   What amazing voices you manage to recruit – and what talented behind-the scenes 'magicians' too".    

"... how wonderful I found your production of the Magic Flute. Everything about it was 'Magic'.
 Also can I stress how great it is for all the people like me who can neither physically or financially manage to see such performances in the bright lights of London nor even as near as Leicester or Northampton. These rural productions are 'Magic' for us."

What a fantastic performance”

“…the singing and acting … were exceptional”

The best [Magic Flute] production I have ever seen”

 “ a most magical Magic Flute. Everyone and everything was superlative. … special thanks to Sam Christie…   her playing was [much] appreciated - the timing was just spot on”


 “The Magic Flute … was a triumph …

The ideas and creativity … were amazing … excellent performances … from all the cast.  … wonderful … lighting and sound effects. Congratulations on an outstanding achievement.”

 “What a super show … a real tour de force.  You’ve taken OM up to a different level. 

The singing was so rich, the diction so clear, the production’s use of the space so inventive, and the three small boys were an absolute and completely convincing master stroke. Also the piano/flute accompaniment was just right and flawlessly executed.  

One must also highly praise Sue’s reduction of the libretto and her brilliant prose dramatic narrative… Thanks to all for [a] thrillingly entertaining and life-affirming evening.”


To hear this wonderful music sung with such conviction by such fine singers and at such close proximity was amazing. It was an entirely authentic dramatic and musical experience. There was no sense at all of this being at some remove from the real thing - it was the real thing. And what a fine operatic pianist: it was clear from the opening bars that we were in for a treat.” - Audience  member  on Fidelio in  St. Andrew's Church.

"I may not like opera, but I love Opera Minima; like the flower from "the bank where the wild thyme [blows]", they are, quite simply, enchanting.” - Press review of "Wild Thyme"

“,,, This tiny opera company proves, once again, the old adage about diamonds and small packages. Opera Minima is a gem.” - Vivien Window

“The quality of the sound in the Old Corset Factory is amazing and the intimacy of the atmosphere really brings the audience into the production.” - audience comment

This opera is different! Not only is the story line thought provoking, but the music is too. Like modern art, at first you may not like it, but by the end of the opera you will probably find yourself thinking "That was wonderful". I certainly did and I am grateful to Opera Minima for the chance to see this innovative production. Vivien Window on Rainforest

 Leicestershire company Opera Minima’s enchanting production of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel triumphantly held its own with other new versions ... With a special intimacy unrivalled by larger companies, the bijou 30-seat room at The Old Corset Factory in rural Great Easton  magically connects the audience with the performance. Inevitably, the modest scale means that production values are basic ... but the excellent cast of first-rate professional singers kept the audience entranced ... this Hansel and Gretel was a joy from start to finish, its freshness and immediacy offering a vital alternative to the more august likes of the Royal Opera and Glyndebourne. Graham Rogers

“Innovative, uplifting and most enjoyable!”   “... the best Trial I’ve ever seen!”    Yet again your production was a triumph ... I wish I had ... come to more than one performance”   “ ...  excellently produced and performed ... particularly ''' the way [the directors]   gave the two operas a modern twist, getting all the little details of modern life exactly right.”  “The direction of [both operas] was outstanding. The comedy in each was skilfully and imaginatively produced”  “...  beautifully put together including the attention to detail and the costumes.” Audience members Trial and Divas


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