Fiona Hamilton and Adriana Festeu started Opera Prelude together in 2010. They met at a concert, discovered their joint love of opera and interest in the development of young singers. Fiona instigated the novel idea of hosting lecture recitals as a means of giving experience and fairly-paid employment opportunities for some of the country’s finest young singers at the start of their careers. Adriana delivered numerous lecture-recitals over the years in parallel with developing her performing as well as academic career. She has gained a PhD from the Royal Academy of Music, where she now does academic work in addition to being Senior Lecturer at Leeds College of Music. Opera Prelude became a registered charity in 2014. Fiona and Adriana continue to oversee the strategic and artistic implementation of the year-round programme of opera related events and outreach work undertaken by Opera Prelude’s next generation talent. The majority of our events take place in London’s Cadogan Hall and Oxfordshire. We have a growing reputation for giving innovative and historically informed performances in prestigious and historic houses, working closely with musicologists, scholars and curators within the heritage sector. We bring opera into the community, engaging, educating and involving audiences with our informal and accessible events. Since our inception, we have supported the professional development and pastoral care of over forty young artists, the majority of whom go on to successful careers, finding agents, winning prizes/competitions and performing with major opera companies.
Originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, Leslie completed her training on the opera course at the Royal Academy of Music, after receiving a Post Graduate Diploma in Voice from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She has performed across Europe and North America, making her American debut with New York City Opera as Mama/Tzippy in Oliver Knussen’s Where the Wild Things Are, Further engagements include Dryade and Der Komponist (cover) Ariadne auf Naxos for the Opéra National de Bordeaux, Mrs. TV The Golden Ticket for Wexford Festival Opera, Nerone L’incoronazione di Poppea for Hampstead Garden Opera, The Fox The Cunning Little Vixen, Sorceress Dido and Aeneas, and Queen Elizabeth I Frobisher for the Banff Festival. For The Glyndebourne Festival, she has coverd Magdalene Die Meistersinger von Nürenberg, Ramiro, La Finta Giardiniera, Meg Page Falstaff, La Bergére/La Chauve Souri, L’enfant et les sortileges, Hänsel Hänsel und Gretel, and Kitchen Girl Rusalka. Leslie is the recipient of numerous awards including the Adele Leigh Memorial Award and the Lieder Prize at the Richard Tauber Prize at Wigmore Hall. She held an Independent Opera Post Graduate Voice Fellowship, was a laureate at the Ochestre Symphonique de Montréal Standard Life Competition, is a Samling Scholar, a Royal Bank Youth Excellence Scholarship, and a British Columbia Arts Council Award for Post Graduate Studies. Leslie’s work with Opera prelude includes auditioning young singers, developing programs and concerts, and managing the running of the charity.
Hannah runs the marketing and PR for Opera Prelude and loves the variety that the job brings together with the knowledge that we are collectively making a difference to the careers of our emerging young artists. Having a Masters in Museum Studies, she has worked at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, as well as the River & Rowing Museum in Henley, primarily looking after their Friends & Patrons. At both Museums, she helped launch a number of prestigious social events to promote these institutions, working closely with the Chair of the Patrons, the Events Team and Curators. Hannah has a daughter who will soon be starting secondary school. During the little freetime she has, she likes to walk the dog, do yoga, read or generally just try to relax!
Alex trained at Hull University, TrinityLaban conservatoire, English National Opera’s ‘Opera Works’ and the Berlin Opera Academy. He has performed all over the world as an operatic soloist and consort singer. For 5 years Alex was a full time member of a cappella ensemble Apollo5, renowned for their beautiful choral music as well as a trend setting education programme. Alex led the education team for Apollo5 for 3 years and during that team he gave masterclasses, workshops and coaching to over 60,000 children. He is passionate about the transformative power of music and has worked with students young, the old and those with mental health issues or physical impairment; this extends to those with conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, and SEND children and he is also an experienced CPD leader allowing him to help train the next generation of workshop facilitators. Alex has led Opera Prelude’s ‘See Golden Days’ concert series for the past 2 years with the generous support of our donors, Age Unlimited.
Another Fiona and also Scottish, Fiona comes from Hamilton in Scotland but has lived in England for over 30 years – though she still has her Scottish accent. She is married with 2 children and lives in Medmenham near Marlow. In her younger days she sang lead vocals with a band in Scotland and still sings now in a local choir aptly named the Descant Housewives. Fiona’s key responsibility at Opera Prelude is managing the Gift Aid programme which is a valuable source of additional income for all the work that we do in helping to support our young singers.
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.
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.
After studying clarinet at Trinity Laban for a year, Nicholas read Music at the University of Oxford, where he focused his academic study on opera ranging from its inception through to the twentieth century. Whilst there, Nicholas was an ambassador for the Royal Opera House, promoting ROH initiatives and productions to the students of Oxford.
In late 2012 Nicholas co-founded Opera Lyrica with the dual aims of enabling young singers, musicians, directors, designers, and technicians gain experience and increasing opera’s audience, especially amongst the younger generation. The charity put on productions of classic operas and brought opera to a number of communities in and around the South of England.
More recently, Nicholas has been the Company Manager at The Grange Festival, working with some of the world’s most acclaimed singers in a unique setting. In his spare time, Nicholas enjoys going to the theatre and sailing.
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.