Plans for new opera theatre in Harborough district

Nevill Holt Hall has hosted short opera seasons, like the one pictured here, in a temporary theatre in the Stables courtyard since 2005.
Nevill Holt Hall has hosted short opera seasons, like the one pictured here, in a temporary theatre in the Stables courtyard since 2005.

The Harborough district could soon have its own 400-seat permanent opera theatre.

A planning application has just gone in to Harborough District Council asking for permission to create the theatre within the attractive, Grade II* listed Stable Block at Nevill Holt Hall, which is about six miles north-east of Market Harborough.

The Hall, owned by highly successful businessman and Carphone Warehouse founder David Ross (51), has hosted short opera seasons in a temporary theatre in the Stables courtyard since 2005.

This year’s Festival, from June 16 to July 3, featured Verdi’s Rigoletto and Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love.

Over the years, the Opera Festival has attracted more than 20,000 visitors, 55 per cent of whom come from outside the Harborough district. The Festival is seen as good for tourism and business in general in Harborough.

Now Mr Ross and Nevill Holt Opera want to build a permanent theatre into the extended Stable Block, creating a 642 square metre theatre.

The theatre’s season would be extended from the current four weeks to around seven weeks.

Outside the opera season, the theatre could be made available to local schools and theatre groups to use.

Under the ownership of Mr Ross, Nevill Holt Hall - which he bought in 2000 - has become known for both its opera festival and its collection of modern British art and sculpture.

Mr Ross has poured millions of pounds into education and the arts, establishing his own Education Trust as well as hosting Nevill Holt Opera Festival at the Hall.

He has said: “It’s brilliant to support the arts and give the best of young British talent an opportunity”.