Assassins (Pimlico Opera)


Pimlico Opera’s latest venture is certainly an outstanding creative achievement. 

Impact on the inmates is hard to quantify.  But judging from the comments in the programme from those taking part, some of whom have never seen a live play before, it could be profound. 

Ptolemy Christie’s direction is tight… the show glides effortlessly from scene to scene.

George Hall, The Guardian ****

…a rare, strong and enjoyable show

Jeremy Kingston, The Times ***

Cosi fan Tutte (Grange Park at Nevill Holt and Pimlico Opera)

Cosi Fan Tutti Neville Holt
Cosi Fan Tutti Neville Holt

This was a thumping good Cosi: wonders never ceased… And the director Ptolemy Christie’s final twist?  Brilliant.

Roderick Dunnett, The Independent ****

Ptolemy Christie’s bright, breezy and economical staging…was a joy to encounter.

..the outstanding acting spoke eloquently of Christie’s gifts. In a performance as likeable as this, Cosi fan Tutte can’t fail

Hugh Canning, Opera

Ptolemy Christie’s choice of the 1930s works well.  Little more than a bare stage with a screen or two… is needed for Christie’s clear telling of the complicated da Ponte plot.

Edward Greenfield, The Guardian ****

Ptolemy Christie’s production….was true to Mozart

Richard Fairman, Financial Times ***

Ptolemy Christie showed a perceptive awareness of the women’s likely reaction at the denouement to their boyfriends’ wager with Alfonso.

Margaret Davies, Musical Opinion

The result was a bright, colourful and spirited production.  Much fun was had by all- and they did manage to turn the frivolity into serious emotion.

Philip Radcliffe, Manchester Evening News

This Grange Park production has a lightness and delicacy of tone and touch.

Nevill Holt can rightfully lay claim as the Leicestershire Glyndebourne

Lynda Smart, Leicester Mercury

Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Grange Park at Nevill Holt and Pimlico Opera

The Barber of Seville

Catch if you can Pimlico Opera’s delightful touring Barber of Seville, wittily directed by Ptolemy Christie.  I haven’t enjoyed a Barber as much in years.

Hugh Canning, Sunday Times

Christie proved adept at manoeuvring his cast around the set for the complicated details required by the plot.  Christie’s handling of the long, chaotic Act 1 finale was distinctly apposite.  The action can often get rather static as it matches Rossini’s set pieces, but here Christie kept an anarchic sort of narrative flow which made musical and dramatic sense

Robert Hugill, Music & Vision

Pimlico Opera’s first performance at Grange Park was a delight.  Much of the credit must go to Ptolemy Christie for directing the 10-strong cast with such finesse and attention to detail.

Diana Hargreaves

Barber is a cut above… The Barber of Seville is still a hit every time it’s performed- and last night’s production at the New Vic Theatre was no exception.

Liz Rowley, The Sentinel

Pimlico Opera makes a welcome return to Berwick.  Directed by Ptolemy Christie…. this witty and entertaining production is performed by a cast of exciting young artists

Berwick Advertiser

La Traviata (Winslow Hall Opera)


…I found many aspects of this Traviata inspired and enriching. … You really felt you were in the room with the characters and could see the whites of their eyes – Bemsch’s scared stare particularly”.

Daily Classical Music

This is an opera of interiors: decadent drawing rooms, grand halls and stifling sickrooms. It takes more than goodwill and a lick of red paint to transform three flat-pack coffee tables and a decorative screen into a Parisian salon. Yet as Annabel Arden’s stripped-back staging for Opera North demonstrated in 1999, you can do a lot with very little if the central performances are truthful.

Designed by Deirdre Clancy and Sam Steer and directed by Ptolemy Christie, Winslow Hall’s jazz age La Traviata has a fancy-dress party atmosphere in the Act I brindisi and the Act II gypsy and matador choruses. Healthy-looking twentysomethings scamper about in dinner suits and flapper dresses, strings of pearls and Louise Brooks wigs, some of them in drag, none of them convincing demimondaines.

Against this cheerfully rackety background the poise and sincerity of Elena Xanthoudakis (Violetta) and Pablo Bemsch (Alfredo) is thrown into relief. Both singers have even-tone production and beautifully idiomatic phrasing and their blend in duet is exquisite.

Stock histrionics melt away in Acts I and II, building to a harrowing public conflict at the gaming tables, an Addio del passato in which every painful pause and repetition is made to count and a Parigi, o cara, noi lasceremo of immense tenderness.

Quentin Hayes’s stern Germont and Freya Jacklin’s watchful Annina stand out among the supporting cast. The orchestral sound is vibrant and immediate, with lively detail from the woodwind and expressive strings, but this La Traviata belongs to Violetta and her lover.

Anna Picard – The Times

Cosi fan Tutte (Dulwich Opera Company)


Dulwich Opera is a touring company established by two young singers, Loretta Hopkins and David Fletcher. Its production of Cosi Fan Tutte will be traversing the country again in the autumn.

Lively and convincingly detailed, it benefits from the hand of an experienced director, Ptolemy Christie, who wisely keeps the standard comic-opera shtick to a minimum.

Having adhered closely to da Ponte’s ambiguity-ridden libretto, in the final moments he introduces a twist: the duped sisters, Fiordiligi and Dorabella, both give the cynical and manipulative Don Alfonso a good slap and walk purposefully offstage, leaving their lovers behind.

In Leah Sams’ design, with its readily portable décor of garlands and bistro furniture, the costumes suggest the 1930s and Ferrando’s and Guglielmo’s disguise evokes Ottoman style.

In vocal terms, the six singers perhaps don’t comprise an ideally-matched ensemble, but all of them give astute performances, making pointed use of the text – the opera is given in Italian with surtitles.

The Latin thrust of Robert Barbaro’s stylish Ferrando contrasts with the relative reserve of Fletcher’s soft-grained baritone as Guglielmo, while there is a little sisterly resemblance between the mellow hues of Phillipa Thomas’ Dorabella and the incisive tones of Hopkins’ confidently articulated Fiordiligi.

Honey Rouhani sparkles as the sassy Despina (genuinely hard to recognise when she enters as a jump lead-toting ‘doctor’) and James Williams makes a suavely resonant Don Alfonso.

There is no orchestra, but Janet Haney handles a piano reduction of the score with pace and panache.

Yehuda Shapiro – The Stage ****

The fascinating venue offered an incredible playing space and excellent acoustic for opera. Christie’s production – in the round – cleverly allowed scenes to dovetail smoothly into one another and he and his design team managed to bring the work to life on what must have been a shoestring budget. Astonishingly, I could hear every word from every singer above the small orchestra – not something one can readily say about larger London venues! 

Sacrilegious though it is to say this, Cosi is a fairly daft story for the modern era. But when approached with care and understanding and with a willing cast, a talented director like Christie can make this Mozart favourite refreshingly attractive to today’s opera audience. I look forward to seeing more work from him at Dulwich and elsewhere.

Roderick Kennedy, Artistic Director, Dorset Opera Festival

‘Ptolemy Christie’s Cosi fan Tutte is charming, intelligent and ultimately so perceptive as this great work moves from a world of youthful and exuberant innocence to the painful dissolution of seemingly natural expectations. Each character is drawn with great clarity, and their collective bewilderment and pain made hurtfully manifest. It’s a production that makes one desperate to know what happens after the curtain comes down.’

Stephen Barlow, Artistic Director Buxton Festival

Carmen – Dulwich Opera Company

(c) Alex Brenner (
(c) Alex Brenner (
Dulwich Opera Company’s Carmen was a convincingly successful show.  This was mainly due to succinct musical direction and rigorous dramatic direction…….
Despite being in a functioning school hall in South London, with a minimal set, and done on the proverbial shoe-string, it still managed to transport us into a languid, sun-soaked Mediterranean…..
Christie got round the crowd scene outside the bullring in Act 4 without a crowd.  He placed the focus solely on Carmen and Escamillo, the extent of their love and put them in gorgeous eye – pleasing costumes.  This in turn made Don Jose’s entrance and the last scene more menacing and powerful.  Christie injected energy into the production and cast; Carmen is an onslaught of emotions and this cast didn’t shy away from that- they were believable……
With the invisible cuts, this was a compulsive and enjoyable show. 
Louise Flind, Opera Today
Nabucco - Brent Opera
Brent Opera’s Nabucco was a triumph in that it worked as a piece of music theatre against some odds….. This production proved that Nabucco can work with a chorus of 19 and a piano.
…..A romantic and political plot is played out with the strong message that good will conquer evil, and this point was clearly delivered by director Ptolemy Christie…. Christie systematically characterizes his characters.  These portrayals work across the cast and chorus and make it believable in a way you didn’t think would be possible…..
Clever old Brent Opera booking Williams and Christie- they’re the real deal, and produced an evening of great entertainment.

Louise Flind, Opera Today