Now in its 11th year, the Garden Opera Company is a small touring company that aims to produce music theatre for as wide an audience as possible, and tries to include the community in its annual production. For the past three years it has been working with schools around the country for performances of Carmen, Don Giovanni and, this year, La Cenerentola. The operas are staged outside during the summer at festivals, and farms, colleges and schools.
At the Abbotsbury Festival in Dorset, local schools have held dance, drama and craft workshops connected to the theme of Carmen and children and parents held a picnic and performance in the school playing field.
Although the Richmond performance was a fundraising event, other organisations stage the opera at cost price. "Some pay for the whole thing themselves (it costs between pound;4,000 and pound;5,000 to stage), others gather their local community to buy tickets to raise the funds, and some raise money for charity," says Lucy de Castro, Garden Opera manager.
The company provides the entire production - staging, crew, lighting, small chamber ensemble - and the host arranges the garden, publicity and ticket sales. Next year's touring opera is Cosi Fan Tutte.