Fiona Hamilton Founder Director
Fiona Hamilton has long had a passion for the arts, particularly opera but it was not always so; the first decade of her marriage was punctuated by regular and ungrateful attendances at ROH, spent waiting for the final applause. Surprisingly perhaps, it was a performance of Fidelio that provided the break through moment and now she is the last to leave the auditorium.
In 2010, she co-founded Opera Prelude in response to the challenges young singers face in building a professional career. Together with Adriana Festeu, she developed the idea of hosting lecture recitals as a means of giving experience and employment opportunities for some of the country’s finest young singers at the start of their careers. Now a charity, Opera Prelude has hosted over 80 lecture recitals, as well as concerts, operas, workshops for inner city children and Masterclasses at the Cadogan Hall and in Oxfordshire.
As Founder Director, she oversees the financial, administrative and strategic functions of the charity. Together with her husband she hosts regular musical events to support young musicians. Fiona is also on the Advisory Board of The International Opera Awards.
Adriana Festeu Founder Director
As co-founder of Opera Prelude, Adriana was the sole lecturer in the inaugural lecture series in Oxfordshire and continues to deliver lectures in both venues.
Adriana discovered her passion for singing aged 3, when she ‘performed’ all the songs she heard to her family. This led to her landing her first title role as Snow White in the kindergarten production. Her love of opera started aged 12, after attending a performance of Le Nozze di Figaro and she became determined to develop a career as an opera singer. She initially studied piano, went on to gain a First Class Honours Degree in singing and made her operatic debut, aged 20, at the Romanian National Opera in Cluj.
In 2009 she gained her Masters with Distinction in the Opera Course of the Royal Academy of Music, where she studied with Lillian Watson and was the recipient of the Lucille Graham Award and the Patricia Kriss Wolf Prize. Adriana also recently gained her PhD from the Academy. Her research, ‘Exploring Zwischenfach: understanding vocal classification and its professional significance’ was supported by the AHRC and the International Opera Awards. As part of her research Adriana has conducted interviews with renowned musicians, such as Frederica von Stade, Della Jones, Jennifer Larmore, Yvonne Howard, Kathryn Harries, Ruxandra Donose, Lillian Watson, David Parry and Jane Glover.
Adriana has sung with Garsington Opera, Grange Park Opera, European Opera Centre, British Youth Opera, New London Consort and Opera South. She featured on two recordings for BBC Radio 3 and is the winner of the Czech Song Prize in the Emmy Destinn Competition.
Adriana’s work with Opera Prelude includes aspects of strategy and administration, researching and programming the seasons’ series, auditioning young singers as well as managing contracts.
A music graduate from Kings College London, Sarah is Senior Producer for The Royal Opera, where she leads the producing team for the Royal Opera's Linbury Theatre and the Royal Opera's work in partnership with other venues in the UK and worldwide including The Barbican Theatre, Lincoln Center, Shakespeare's Globe, Lyric Hammersmith, Roundhouse and Curve Leicester amongst many others. Sarah's work at the Royal Opera is predominantly focused on contemporary and new work at the forefront of the development of the genre. Previously Sarah spent nine years at Opera Holland Park, the award winning summer opera festival based in West London, where she worked as Associate Producer for James Clutton.
Sarah is passionate about engaging and supporting young talent, new work and reaching new audiences. In 2012, Sarah and Producer James Clutton commissioned Opera Holland Park’s first new opera, ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ by Will Todd. It was in shaping this new work for the first time that Sarah got the new opera bug which led her to her current role with ROH. When Sarah is not working she particularly enjoys cooking & running and has raised over £10,000 for Breakthrough Breast Cancer running two London Marathons.
Sarah studied Theatre and Performance BA and Advertising and Marketing MA, both at Leeds University. Whilst here she discovered her love for producing when she became the Producer for Hungry Bitches Productions Theatre Company (yes… really); who specialise in new musical theatre productions with a contemporary bite. With Hungry Bitches Productions their shows “FACEHUNTERS” and “AMERICANA” were both selected for The Sunday Times National Student Drama Festival, where they picked up the Cameron Mackintosh Award for musical theatre as well as producing sell-put shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 3 years running.
In 2012 Sarah became the Founding Producer of The International Opera Awards, which have gone from strength to strength over the past few years, with significant growth in audience numbers and international recognition. Now firmly established as the Oscars of the opera world, and one the most significant and highly-anticipated events in the global arts calendar: the “Toscars”. The Opera Awards Foundation, their charity and raison d’être supports aspiring talent in opera throughout the world. As well as producing the awards and being a trustee of Opera Prelude, Sarah works in business development for Investor Publishing Ltd, is on the English National Opera Young Patron’s Committee and is Chairman of the Helios Collective.
Nicholas discovered his love of opera at a very early age. The first time he was quiet for a two hour span was when he was sat in front of a video of Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the age of 2. Fortunately, in many respects, very little has changed.
During his gap year, Nicholas studied clarinet at Trinity College of Music before going to Oxford, where he sang in St Peter’s College Choir and read Music at St Edmund Hall. Whilst there, he focused his academic study on opera ranging from its inception through to the twentieth century. His undergraduate dissertation concentrated on Puccini’s Tosca and its European musical and philosophical influences. In 2012/13, Nicholas was an ambassador for the Royal Opera House, promoting ROH initiatives and productions to the students of Oxford.
In late 2012 Nicholas also co-founded Opera Lyrica with director Paola Cuffolo (an Opera Prelude lecturer) to try to help young singers, musicians, directors, designers, and technicians gain experience in opera as well as to try to increase opera’s audience in general, especially amongst the younger generation. So far, with Opera Lyrica, Nicholas has produced a double bill of Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor and Die Zauberflöte in Oxford and Sheffield, Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, an 11 venue tour of the South of England with Handel’s Acis and Galatea, and Mozart’s Così fan tutte. Future productions include a tour of a double-bill of Blow’s Venus and Adonis and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas in February next year. www.operalyrica.co.uk