Life in Programmes

Introducing ‘A Life in Opera Programmes’: Carmen, Royal Opera, 20 January 1947

I’ve long been thinking that, if this blog is to get a bit more interesting, then I need to branch out a bit from the current model, namely a string of my half-formed thoughts on recent opera performances.  My source of inspiration, for what will hopefully become a series of occasional posts, is my partner’s late uncle, Kenneth Wills.

Ken Wills Royal Opera Programme Collection (part)

Kenneth was an enthusiastic contributor to the work of a range of operatic companies in the Kent area, including Kentish* Opera as a chorus member, and other such heartwarming endeavours as the West Wickham Operatic Society.  He was a lifelong operagoer.  When he died, a few years ago, my partner’s aunt offered to us his carefully curated collection of opera programmes, the core of which is a collection of Royal Opera programmes, some annotated, some with signatures, and all catalogued, going back to 1947.  They make for a powerful account of a life dedicated to climbing those draughty stone steps from the side entrance up to the Amphitheatre of the pre-refurbishment Royal Opera House.  She retained the catalogue, to share the memories, so at some point – probably when my MBA dissertation is finally out of the way – I’ll create a substitute electronic catalogue.  For now though, it is interesting simply to dip in and reflect on individual performances from a life of operagoing expressed through this programme collection.  I hope also that it is, in some small way, a tribute to Ken Wills’ modest but determined contribution to opera, whether through Kent Opera or through being a loyal audience member at Covent Garden, Sadler’s Wells and the Coliseum. (more…)