Music Director 2024
Trustees - Karen Harris (Chair), Karen Abbott, Jenny Cuthill, Paul Collins, Peter Heywood, Andrew Lancaster, June Stevenson, Georgina Walkey
Patrons - Richard Jackson, Wendy Eathorne
Life Members - Benjamin Luxon CBE, Annabella Waite MBE, Paul Drayton
Honorary Members - John Hobbs, Derek Rowse
Richard was born in Cornwall, and educated at King’s College, Cambridge (his degree is in French and German) and the Guildhall School. He developed a number of specialisms as a singer, including contemporary music, and the song repertoire. He created a variety of new opera roles at London's Almeida Festival, in Amsterdam, Warsaw, and Mexico. He was a founder-member of The Songmakers’ Almanac, regularly singing with the group in the Wigmore Hall, at the Festivals of Aldeburgh and Edinburgh, in Europe and the USA, and taking part in their recordings for BBC TV and CD. He was the original Christus in Jonathan Miller's celebrated staging of the St Matthew Passion - also for BBC TV and on CD. He sang at ENO, Opera North, Glyndebourne, and the Monnaie, Brussels. He sang the title role in Eugene Onegin under Rostropovich, and worked on Menotti's Maria Golovin, directed by the composer. He has now retired as a singer, but his specialist languages, French and German, are being employed in a flourishing teaching career. He leads song classes at the Royal College of Music, the Guildhall SMD, and Trinity College of Music as well as making regular visits to York, where he has directed two Purcell stagings: King Arthur, and Dido and Aeneas. He has taught in Beijing, Hong Kong, Australia, France and Norway. He has served on the jury of the Kathleen Ferrier Awards twice. Richard has led masterclasses with Duchy Opera and directed our 2014 production of Donizetti’s Elixir of Love as well as the highly successful La Traviata by Verdi at the Minack in 2017.
Music Director 2024
Patrick Bailey is a conductor, composer and presenter.He has conducted concerts with the Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, London Sinfonietta, New Music Players, ViVA, Cambridge University Music Society and many others. He has given concerts across Europe and in Dubai, India, Oman, China and the USA. In this country he has appeared at festivals in Aldeburgh, Brighton, Bath, Buxton and Cheltenham, broadcast concerts and opera for BBC Radio 3 and recorded for NMC and Tartan Film.
Whilst he was Music Director of The Opera Group, he conducted numerous new productions and tours including Blond Eckbert and The Nose (Royal Opera House), The Shops (world premiere, Bregenz Festival, Austria) and Street Scene (Young Vic & winner of the Best Musical at the Evening Standard Awards). Other notable performances include the UK premiere of Nono’s gargantuan Prometeo with the London Sinfonietta at the Royal Festival Hall.
As a composer, workshop leader and presenter, Patrick has led projects and written and presented concerts for BBC orchestras, BBC Proms, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Royal Opera House, Trinity-Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Music for Youth. He held the roles of Learning Manager for the BBC Concert Orchestra and Education & Community Director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. He was appointed a Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra Associate in 2015 leading their participation work in Cornwall where he now lives. He is the founder and Artistic Director of Kevos, a group of Cornwall-based musicians dedicated to performing contemporary music. He continues to divide his time between Cornwall and working across the UK.
Retiring at the end of 2018 after 14 years as Music Director of Duchy Opera, Paul Drayton is an accomplished pianist, composer, lecturer and conductor. He gained the Advanced Piano Performing Diploma of the Royal Academy of Music at the age of sixteen, going on to study music and composition at Oxford University.
His work as a pianist has included concerto performances, solo recitals, chamber music, accompaniment, and the occasional jazz performance. He is the author of a listener’s guide to music entitled Unheard Melodies or Trampolining in the Vatican (Athena Press 2008). As a composer he has had major works commissioned by the Norwich Triennial Festival, the Three Choirs Festival and the Kings Singers (including "Masterpiece"), and he has written for many individual artists, ensembles and choirs. His works have been published, recorded and broadcast in Europe, Japan and the USA. His chilling opera The Hanging Oak, based on a story by M.R. James, was premiered in October 2009, and in 2012 his new chamber opera The Mermaid of Zennor, adapted from the popular Cornish legend, was performed by Duchy Opera with children from Cornish Primary Schools.
Benjamin Luxon CBE
Internationally renowned baritone Ben Luxon has had a long association with Duchy Opera. He was born in Redruth, Cornwall and early in his career he was a member of composer Benjamin Britten's English Opera Group, singing roles in Albert Herring and The Rape of Lucretia in 1963. Eight years later, Britten composed the title role of his television opera Owen Wingrave specifically for Luxon's voice. He went on to sing at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and at the Glyndebourne Opera Festival, where he became a frequent guest. He had a long association with English National Opera and has performed leading roles at the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala and in Los Angeles as well as most of the major European opera houses. He has been a recitalist with an unusually broad repertoire, ranging from early music through Lieder to contemporary song, music hall and folk music and has made more than a hundred recordings. Since experiencing problems with hearing loss he has developed a career as a narrator and poetry reader whilst continuing to direct opera and give master classes. He currently lives in the USA, but in 2012 came to Cornwall to perform in Miracle Theatre and English Touring Opera's Tin.
Whilst at the height of his international opera career he saw Duchy Opera’s first production of Carmen in 1984 and was so impressed by the high standard of the Company that he spoke to Director Chris Warner offering help and support. Being Cornish-born with family still in the area and educated at Truro School he often visited the County. In 1987 Duchy Opera was extremely privileged when he agreed to sing the role of Papageno in a touring production of The Magic Flute, which he did, to the delight of the audience, Cornish-style, at one point sitting on the edge of the stage eating a pasty! His wife, soprano Sheila Amit, shared the part of Papagena with Suzanne Manuell. He introduced the Company to Leon Lovett, a London based conductor, also at the height of his career, who then became Musical Director for a number of years. In 1989 Ben played the title role in Duchy Opera’s 2nd production of Eugene Onegin which he was also singing concurrently at La Scala, Milan, in Russian. He also took part in Country House concerts and on one memorable occasion, when the food for the Friends was being prepared at St Michael’s Mount, on the afternoon of the concert, he swam across to see how the preparations were going. Having swum back he returned an hour later looking immaculate in white tie and tails.
Another outstanding occasion was the Last Night of the Proms at Carn Brea when Ben was seen crawling on the roof of the building blocking out the light from the windows with black bin bags. He was definitely ‘hands-on’ and not in any way a divo! It was here too that, during a discussion between Ben and Chris Warner, the embryonic stages of a theatre for Cornwall were planned on the back of a menu and resulted in Ben forming part of a core group which met to discuss the future and campaign for a new City Hall (now the Hall for Cornwall). In 1998 Duchy Opera staged its first production in the newly built Hall for Cornwall – Die Fledermaus, which was directed by Ben and designed by Lyn LeGrice. He also directed Carmen the following year. Ben now lives in the USA but still maintains his links with Duchy Opera.
Annabella Waite MBE
Annabella has lived and worked as a singing teacher in Cornwall for over 40 years. She originally trained at the Legat School for a career in ballet. After gaining a place on the Performers’ Course at the Guildhall School of Music she studied singing with Oda Slobadskaya and Reinhold Gerhardt. She initially performed in London’s West End and, after marriage, went to live in Canada where she continued studies at the Toronto Conservatory with Ernesto Vinci and worked as a freelance soloist/recitalist and also as a member of the Festival Singers of Canada under the conductorship of Elmer Eisler. After four years teaching music in the Caymen Islands she returned to Cornwall and, encouraged by teacher Pamela Faulkner, established a teaching practice, tutoring boys for choral scholarships, teaching in local schools, doing voice therapy work and preparing advanced pupils for professional work & for entry to universities and music colleges. She has sung oratorio & opera in SW England and is a founder member of Duchy Opera for whom she designed sets and costumes for over fifteen years. As part of the company's education outreach she has arranged many opera workshops (for schools, locally based choirs and advanced singers) with Mollie Petrie, Richard Jackson and Russell Smythe, Peter Harrison and Mary Hammond. She has also organised three masterclasses with Benjamin Luxon. She completed the CT ABRSM course in 1998/99 and is currently researching and compiling material for the publication of a Glossary of Musical Terms for Singers. Annabella has also taught voice training as part-time lecturer at The Combined University of Cornwall for the postgraduate MA course of Broadcast Journalism. She was awarded the MBE in the 2004 New Year’s Honours List for services to Duchy Opera Trust and the Community of Cornwall.
In 2012, John and his wife, Margaret, were delighted to be made the first Honorary Members of Duchy Opera, which they had been so happy to serve for the past 26 years. John's musical education began with piano lessons at the age of 4, and in 1959 he gained a choral exhibition to Christ's College, Cambridge, reading Rural Estate Management and singing in the chapel choir then joining the Cambridge University Music Society's large undergraduate choir directed by (Sir) David Willcocks. Leaving Cambridge (without a degree!), John farmed in Warwickshire and Barnstaple, and became organist at High Bickington Parish Church, whilst singing with the North Devon Choral Society and as a soloist in the region. By 1968 John had moved to Cornwall, and, still farming, become organist at Launcells Parish Church and conductor of Bude Choral Society, a post which he still holds today. There were singing engagements with choral societies over a wide area and a large repertoire of oratorio and songs developed, but no opera, as yet, as its rehearsal requirements do not sit well with twice-a-day milking and animal husbandry! A performer's LRAM singing diploma was gained. In 1981 John turned to music teaching at St Petroc's, Bude, gaining a BA(Hons) degree with the O.U. He attended a master-class given by Ben Luxon and joined Duchy Opera. In 2007 he retired from teaching and returned to small-scale farming. John still performs in Gala Concerts, conducts three choral societies, is organist at Weare Giffard, and sings in oratorio. John has sung many of the principal baritone roles in the Company's productions since 1987.
Derek has been a valued, loyal member of Duchy Opera since shortly after its inception, during which time he has sung many solo roles - in fact he has performed the role of Remendado in the opera Carmen at least 5 times! He has sung in the mini chorus, with the Troubadours, at Country House concerts, in major productions, with The School Run and was a member of the Men of Good Fortune. He will always be remembered for his natural, silver-toned tenor voice, although he actually began his singing career in the bass section of a male voice choir. His rendition of “Come into the garden Maud “ will live on in the hearts of the ladies at whose feet he declared undying love. One memorable occasion was when, at an after- show party, he was presented with a large, dotted crochet by the conductor. Only he knew the signiﬁcance of this!!!! Apart from singing with Duchy Opera he has made a major contribution to the smooth running of the company. Since his retirement from singing with the company, his relaxed approach to life and wicked sense of humour are greatly missed.