The New Aquarian Opera Company
A BRIEF HISTORY
Aquarian Opera was formed in September 1998 with a performance of Puccini’s one act opera Suor Angelica at the Westerham Village Hall. The first of many performances at The Barn Theatre in Oxted took place the following year in September 1999 with a Production of Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffman. Aquarian Opera continued with productions, mainly at The Barn Theatre until February 2010.
In 2018, the former Trustees were approached about resurrecting Aquarian Opera with an entirely new management team, and the reins were passed on.
As The New Aquarian Opera Company, we had planned to launch in the autumn of 2020 with a fully staged production of The Merry Widow and held a launch party at The Barn Theatre in December 2019. This was followed by a cast “read-through” in March 2019, auditions were just about to begin as the pandemic came, and so everything was put on hold.
We realised that in the present climate, launching, what to all extents and purposes, was a new company with a large-scale production was not going to be possible. We had hoped to be able to perform a concert in April 2021, but as we were still in the middle of the pandemic, that idea also had to be abandoned.
Our Artistic Director had heard about a show that had been performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2019, and after discussion with the show’s author, and a very tight rehearsal period – The New Aquarian Opera Company gave their first performance at The Barn Theatre - the English premiere of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Improbable New Musical: Less Miserable!
oUR AIMS & ETHOS
We hope to develop the technical skills and innate talents of both amateur and aspirant professional performers, to provide a platform for young singers to gain performing experience and to encourage multi-generational involvement within our productions including fundraiser concerts, small tours and festival performances.
Please note that The New Aquarian Opera Company is an amateur company. For our main productions a show fee is payable by all cast members to help cover production costs. We also produce gala concerts for private clients where performers will be offered a fee to cover their expenses.
For touring productions, any accommodation and travel costs are to be borne by participants.
We believe that everybody should have the right to perform regardless of their financial background. We do not discriminate on the basis of an individual’s race, colour, national or ethnic origin, religion, age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or disability.
The New Aquarian Opera Company is committed to diversity at all levels: on our stage and in our audience. We are dedicated to widening participation within the industry, we keep our Performance and Membership Fees low, we do not charge for auditions and have set up a Fee Waiver Scheme to encourage applications from talented candidates who are deterred from applying by financial barriers. Do not let the fact that you have to pay a fee to perform put you off!
oUR team: Melanie Vinall, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Melanie trained as an operatic soprano and has performed In Italy, the USA and Germany. Closer to home, Melanie has performed at the Southbank and has sung with London City Opera, Leitmotif Opera, Opera Piccola and Abbey Opera. She has appeared in cabaret, was the guest soloist with the Croydon Male Voice Choir and has given Opera, Lieder, French, Russian Song and Musical Theatre recitals. Her operatic stage roles include Violetta (La Traviata), Micaela (Carmen), the Dew Fairy (Hansel and Gretel), Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), (Contessa) The Marriage of Figaro and Cio-Cio-San (Madame Butterfly). Melanie provided the voice for commercials including the Opera Singer in Vodaphone’s “It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings” campaign.
Directing credits include Offenbach’s La Belle Helene for Guildford Opera, Beauty and the Beast Panto for Westerham Amateur Dramatics, A Night at the Opera and Gilbert & Sullivan’s Improbable New Musical: Less Miserable! for The New Aquarian Opera Company and for Oxted Operatic The Pirates of Penzance, The Wizard of Oz and Curtain Up!
oUR team: Guy Middlemiss – Musical Director
Guy has been on the musical theatre scene for the last 30 years. His first engagements, with the Imperial College Operatic Society (London) doing mainly G&S.
He has subsequently been repetiteur, orchestral keyboard player and musical director for a number of companies in the London area, including BROS Theatre Company, Questors Theatre, Wallington Operatic & Dramatic Society, Younger Generation Theatre Group, Oxted Musical Theatre Company, Harrow Opera, Harrow Opera, Creative Minds Academy, Camberley Musical Society and now The New Aquarian Opera Company – he was Musical Director for their first revival show, A Night at the Opera, in November 2021.
He is delighted to be continuing his involvement with Aquarian Opera by being Musical Director for The Merry Widow.