Press Reviews

H.M.S.Pinafore at The Theatre, Chipping Norton

The Magic Flute at Waterperry Gardens

“As the sun set and a crescent moon rose over Waterperry, Opera Anywhere swathed the evening and audience in the beautiful and complex tones and tales of Mozart’s Magic Flute. In the liminal space between light and dark they wove an enchanted web of captivating music and drama. Everyone left enchanted, with the magic of the musical performance shimmering in their ears” – Helen Smith, Daily Info., July 2016  See full review

 The Pirates of Penzance at Bournemouth

“A cast of ten, plus two musicians (3 if you count Ruth’s trumpet accompaniment at one point) brought the familiar story to vibrant and energetic life whilst playing it fairly straight, and the way in which they made up for their lack of numbers was nothing short of ingenious, just proving what can be done with a bit of lateral thinking”…. “There wasn’t a microphone in sight yet the singing came over loud and clear and the voices were among the best I have ever heard” – Linda Kirkman, 23 April 2016 Full review on the Opera Anywhere Facebook page

The Pirates of Penzance at Eynsham

“Every man and woman of them gave it both barrels of a piratical blunderbuss, and the church rocked with energy and fun”

Andrew Bell, Daily Information 31st July 2015 (Full review)

The Bear plus The Old Maid & The Thief at Waterperry Gardens

“From the opening wail of despair to the closing passionate duel, The Bear performed by Opera Anywhere at Waterperry Gardens on Friday night hit high notes, high drama and unexpected humour”

Helen Smith, Daily Information 10th July 2015 (Full review external link)

Menotti Double Bill
“Opera Anywhere has already established an enviable reputation for small-scale opera; with this double bill, they have set themselves a new benchmark in excellence”
Nicola Lisle, Oxford Times, 9th April 2009 (full review – external link)

La Dolce Vita Opera Cruise
“Mike and Vanessa Woodward’s Opera Anywhere runs intimate Thames cruises for opera buffs. Jeffery Taylor floats downstream.”
Jeffery Taylor, Sunday Express, 29th June 2008

An Opera Anywhere Christmas – Dec 2013 Tour:  Liza Lehmann songs + Amahl & The Night Visitors (Menotti)

The big gothic church of St Andrews played host to an interesting and ambitious seasonal presentation on Tuesday, of a series of songs derived from Belloc and Carroll poems, and the short Menotti opera Amahl and the Night Visitors, from the Opera Anywhere team.

The songs were, to be honest, something of a challenge for the younger children in the audience, even if (as was probably the case) they knew and loved them very well as poems. The excellent printed program gave us the background to their creation by Liza Lehmann in the 1890s, and the fact that some of these adaptations were very highly regarded by Benjamin Britten.

Menotti was very particular about the opera needing a boy soprano in the title role of his opera, but in this production we have a female lead, who handled the part excellently. The opera was accompanied by piano and flute with a simple and elegant score, which worked very nicely in the space of the church. The full length of the nave was used by the performance, and it was noticeable too how subtly and cleverly the lighting was handled, expressing the mood of the pieces or illustrating the approach of night.

As a single-act piece of just 45 minutes, Amahl is sometimes thought of as a relatively gentle way of introducing children to the world of opera. But it is a mid-20th century piece, and that means occasional complexity and dissonance, and virtually no naturalistic speech, which can make the story difficult to follow: while the spectacle of the opera clearly interested children, some were a bit bewildered by just what was going on!

So although the evening billed itself as entertainment for the whole family, it was perhaps quite an ambitious presentation. There can be no argument though, about the excellence and highly-trained proficiency of the singing and of the theatre – Opera Anywhere, a very interesting collective of highly experienced performers again claimed mastery of a fine venue.

ndaisley (DI Reviewer), 18/12/13

Book Shop Opera’s  – The Mikado and The Pirates of Penzance at Blackwells Bookshop – May / June 2013


An opening chorus of three (one man, two ladies), an orchestra of two (a piano and a flute), a female Nanki-Poo – it sounds like the recipe for disaster. But Opera Anywhere is a company that could stage the telephone directory and make a decent fist of it, and this production of The Mikado, set against the unlikeliest of backdrops, is possibly one of their greatest triumphs.

Originally designed and directed by Paula Chitty for the Sunningwell Festival, it has been cleverly adapted for the Norrington Room by Helen Winter, who made imaginative use of the space. The novelty of seeing these assorted characters from the town of Titipu strutting their stuff among the bookshelves – and at one point, scarily, on top of some bookshelves – was both charming and captivating. It was a bit like opening a magic box and watching the characters come gradually to life, before putting them all away again and closing the lid.

Among an exceptionally strong cast it seems unfair to single anyone out, but I particularly loved Fred Broom’s jolly Mikado and Matthew Kellett’s strongly-sung, suitably sneering Pooh-Bah. Paloma Bruce, Sian Millett and Nikki Bagshaw made a sprightly trio of little maids, while Nia Williams and Nick Planas did sterling work as the ‘orchestra’. This was a bright, lively, energetic production, with laughs a-plenty and a cast that was clearly having a ball. It bodes well for this week’s production of The Pirates of Penzance, which runs from Thursday to Saturday, and brings Opera Anywhere’s two-week G&S Festival to a magnificent finale. Expect lots more fun and mayhem as the Norrington Room becomes home to a band of swashbuckling pirates.

The Pirates of Penzance

The Opera Anywhere production of Pirates is quite spiffing. Nothing has been lost, and the Artistic Director has been splendidly successful in maintaining the vigour, vitality and richness of the original. There is a very high standard of singing and a superlative keyboard accompaniment from the ever alert Louisa Lam. The comedy is fun throughout and there is some very realistic and convincing acting. In short, every aspect of this show is quality and it is not to be missed. This is a smart, sharp and witty production; costumes, make-up and lighting areall excellent, the atmosphere is electric, the timimg is always superb, and everyone has a good time, including the actors the themselves. The audience were all favourably impressed and repeatedly applauded with elan.
Opera Anywhere is clearly doing a great job and needs to be complimented, especially hardworking Managing Director Mike and his indefatigable wife Vanessa – Oxford Prospect – Full Review

The Mikado

It’s not often you get to see The Mikado accompanied by the occasional splashing of ducks, or with Ko-Ko making his first appearance in a punt. But this is all part of the charm of the Sunningwell Festival — a kind of mini Henley Festival set around a village pond instead of the Thames — and on Saturday this ten-day arts jamboree came to a rousing close with Opera Anywhere’s Jubilee-themed production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most popular operetta”Nicola Lisle, Oxford Times June, 2012

Pirates on the Pond
“Opera Anywhere marked their tenth anniversary on Saturday by returning to where it all started — at the Proms on the Pond in Sunningwell…”
Nicola Lisle, Oxford Times, 9th June 2010 (full reviewexternal link)

Christmas Opera Double Bill
“this years offering was as fresh and sparkling as ever”
Nicola Lisle, Oxford Times, 17th December 2009 (full reviewexternal link)

Menotti Double Bill
“Opera Anywhere has already established an enviable reputation for small-scale opera; with this double bill, they have set themselves a new benchmark in excellence”
Nicola Lisle, Oxford Times, 9th April 2009 (full review – external link)

La Dolce Vita Opera Cruise
“Mike and Vanessa Woodward’s Opera Anywhere runs intimate Thames cruises for opera buffs. Jeffery Taylor floats downstream.”
Jeffery Taylor, Sunday Express, 29th June 2008

La Dolce Vita Opera Cruise
“…the official launch last week lived up to expectations. On a hot, sunny evening, a small group of us enjoyed a selection of arias from favourite operas…”
Nicola Lisle, Oxford Times, 19th June 2008 (full review – external link)

Arias on Ice
“The coming together of two art forms – opera singing and ice skating – looks, on paper, a wonderful idea…”
Nicola Lisle, Oxford Times, December 2007 (full review – external link)

Christmas Opera Double Bill
“Confident acting and a voice of exceptional purity and strength combine to make this a truly remarkable and memorable portrayal.”
Nicola Lisle, Oxford Times, December 2007 (full review – external link)

Proms on the Pond, Sunningwell Festival 2007
“This was a wonderfully entertaining evening, with good music, a talented cast and laughs a-plenty. Superb.
Nicola Lisle, Oxford Times, August 2007

Don Giovanni – “Just the Business” 

“Some stories come up trumps, no matter what you do to them. But Don Giovanni not only survived in Opera Anywhere’s re-interpretation, it actually thrived in their radical chamber staging.”
Tom Walker, Opera Now Magazine, July 2007 

Don Giovanni

“The result is a refreshing and completely valid version of Mozart’s opera, following the story-line closely but reminding one that his characters are real people with real emotions involved in the sexual politics of real situations (unlike many recent productions).”
Peter Schofield, Oxford Magazine, May 2007

Don Giovanni 

“It is a courageous move to take a much-loved opera and drag it resolutely into the 21st century. But Opera Anywhere’s updated version of Don Giovanni is bright, fresh, witty and dramatic.”
Nicola Lisle, May 2007, The Oxford Times

Classical Music Magazine, Interview and Feature 

“It is a brave opera company that lets in the tv cameras – as the Royal Opera  discovered to its cost some years ago. But Opera Anywhere, a small company with big ambitions, has few regrets.”
Nicola Lisle, April 2007, Classical Music Magazine 

Arias on Ice 

“All those who find pleasure in skating as a performing art should hope that the relationship between opera and skating flourishes.”
Janet West , April 2007, iSKATE Magazine

Oxford Times, Interview and Feature 

“In more ways than one, this is a company that is really going places.”
Nicola Lisle, December 2006, The Oxford Times

Great Opera Moments

“This dazzling collection of operatic cameos, spanning several centuries and featuring familiar and not-so-familiar composers, adds up to a truly exciting evening”
Nicola Lisle, August 2006, The Oxford Times

Curiouser and Curioser

“Once again, this innovative company has come up with a fun evening guaranteed to get you in the festive mood”
Nicola Lisle, Dec 2005, The Oxford Times.

Carry On Gilbert & Sullivan

“The enthusiasm and talent of this mainly Oxford based cast ensure that the pace never falters – It all adds up to two hours of pure delight”
Nicola Lisle, The Oxford Times

Too Hot To Handel

“A show not to be missed for the opera lover and the lover of just sheer entertainment!”
The Abingdon Herald

‘The Bear’ and ‘A Dinner Enagement’ (Double Bill)

“Both pieces add up to an evening of light-hearted fun, which is well worth catching if you can.”
Oxford Times Review

Proms on the Pond

“Supremely, even sublimely English, however, was the Tales of Hoffmann ‘Bar carolle’ sung in a rubber dinghy rather than a gondola”
Hugh Vickers, Oxford Times, August 2005

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