Early in 1950, two young musical enthusiasts, David Cairns (now a leading music critic and biographer of Berlioz) and Stephen Gray (later to become general manager of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra), persuaded a twenty-two year old clarinettist called Colin Davis to put on a concert performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni in the Holywell Music Room, Oxford. Thus the Chelsea Opera Group was born, so called because both its co-founders were then living in Chelsea. Since its foundation COG has led the way in performing concert opera, reviving unjustifiably neglected works and lesser known versions of familiar favourites. Many of the works rediscovered by COG are now in the repertoires of professional opera houses. See all COG’s performances since 1950.
The history of COG’s first 50 years is told in In Concert: 50 Years of Chelsea Opera Group. The book contains a CD of selected performances. Order a copy.
COG has provided invaluable experience for conductors and singers at the beginning of their careers, as well as the opportunity for talented amateur musicians to experience opera at a very high standard. Among other well-known conductors who appeared with COG early in their careers are Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Mark Elder, and Sir Roger Norrington. Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Sir Willard White, Sarah Walker, John Tomlinson, Roger Lloyd and Jill Gomez are among the singers who were to become familiar to all opera lovers.
We receive no public subsidy and ticket sales do not cover our costs. We therefore need to raise extra income. COG is supported by the Chelsea Opera Group Trust, a charitable trust funded by donations from individuals and companies, and by Cognoscenti, a friends’ and supporters’ group to help further our appeal to those with a love of opera.
Find out about making donations, joining Cognoscenti, receiving our mailings, auditioning for our chorus and joining our orchestra
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