Work has just started on a new 400-seat opera house in the Harborough district, which is likely to become a jewel in the crown of the midlands arts scene.
The opera house, within a Grade II* listed stable block at Nevill Holt Hall, about six miles north-east of Market Harborough, will be the first to be built in England for more than a decade.
The driving force behind the remarkable development is wealthy hall owner David Ross (51), the Carphone Warehouse founder, one of the UK’s most successful businessmen and a major supporter of opera.
Mr Ross’s goal is to replace the current temporary theatre at the hall with the perfect venue for young opera stars, performing to a regional audience. Local school children will also feature in many productions.
The aim is to have the ambitious, multi-million pound adaptation finished in time for Nevill Holt’s 2018 opera season.
Nevill Holt Opera’s (NHO’s) artistic director Nicholas Chalmers told the Mail this week: “Work has already begun on site – they’re excavating the foundation at the moment. It’s a huge project and we’re delighted that the David Ross Foundation has invested in this. It’s so exciting.”
General manager Rosenna East said: “We are sincerely grateful to all those who have helped us reach this landmark moment for NHO. We cannot wait to welcome you all to the new theatre.”
This year’s Opera Festival at Nevill Holt Hall will be the last one in the temporary theatre established in the stables courtyard in 2005.
This year’s short season has two operas – Puccini’s famously melodramatic opera Tosca from June 15 to 22 and – just announced – a full-scale outdoor production of Noye’s Fludde (Noah’s Flood) by Benjamin Britten on July 1 and 2.
Mr Ross has said: “It’s brilliant to support the arts and give the best of young British talent an opportunity.”
*More on this story in this week’s Harborough Mail.