Hatstand Opera performance scorecards

We’ve been delving into our database to discover some daunting numbers and surprising stats about what we’ve sung since the year 2000.

Can you guess what our most frequently sung item is?
Or the opera we sing from the most?
Or what voice types sing the most duets?

All is revealed in our new infographic!

Everyone needs a good Laugh at the Opera now and then!

A Laugh at the Opera Suffolk Sat August 24 2013

Suffolk, it’s time to have a good time at the opera! Forget depressing story lines and angst-ridden singers, Hatstand Opera will be raising the roof at the Brick Kin Barn in Sibton with “A Laugh at the Opera”, on Saturday 24 August at 7.30pm.

This highly entertaining show is a fun easy way into opera, a ‘chocolate box’ assortment of highlights, featuring comic chaos and crazy characters from the world’s favourite operas. Presented in our trademark informal and often irreverent style, this terrific show ensure everyone can have a good chuckle with opera, whether newbie or complete opera geek. We always say our shows are like the weather; if you don’t like what we are singing, wait 5 minutes and it’ll change!

And talking of weather, the show is presented in the Courtyard of the lovely Brick Kiln Barn in Sibton, with the gorgeous barn itself on standby should the August Bank Holiday prove to be inclement. The Courtyard is open for ‘bring your own’ picnics from 5.30pm, with the show starting at 7.30pm. There’s a licensed bar for drinks, a raffle for champagne, and a complimentary drink on arrival.


Lights Camera Action in Godalming – cancelled

APOLOGIES – this performance has been cancelled, but we hope to come back to Godalming very soon!

Lights, Camera… Action!

The songs behind famous movies, from opera to silver screen classics

Nothing brings a classic film scene to life like a great soundtrack. Hatstand Opera bring the music behind the movies back into the limelight!

From opera classics to famous screen songs, you’ll love these timeless tunes presented in glorious colour by “The enterprising stars of Hatstand Opera” The Times.

After the Intermission, it’s non-stop, toe-tapping, wonderful award-winning songs that’ll send you “Over the Rainbow” with supercalifragilistic delight! Play it (again), Sam!

Read more at the Lights, Camera, Action page.


Opera in Frinton – how we keep our shows fresh!

On Saturday, we’ll be back at the marquee on the Greensward to entertain the good folks of Frinton on Sea with one of our classic shows, “Romance at the Opera“.

This is our seventh visit to Frinton, and we’ll be singing opera extracts we’ve never performed there before – guaranteed. This isn’t because we’re blessed with instant recall memories, it’s because we’ve got a database listing all our performances back to 1998. (And scanned printed records back to 1992!)

Sad but true.

Actually, this database is at the very heart of our show preparation. Every item we sing is listed, and we’re up to 915 at present. (It would be 1022, but we’ve deleted some items we only ever sang once.) Every item is linked to who in the HSO cast sings it, what costume they wear, what prop they need, how long the item is, what language(s) we sing it in, and even where the sheet music is stored.

So, we simply type in the item numbers for each show and voila, we create a record of what we sang, when, and where. And if we cahnge the items we sing on the night, we update the database on our return. This way, if we’re doing a classic show, we can avoid repeat items at venues we visit often, like Frinton.

Sadly, this does mean that in the office, we tend to describe a show like a Chinese takeaway menu: “OK, so we’ll start with a 22, make sure there’s a 3 in there, and we do 898 before the 376.”

That’s “We’ll start with the Brindisi from la Traviata, make sure we include Sull’aria from Nozze di Figaro and we’ll sing a duet from Merry Widow before the Encore” in case you were wondering.

As the saying goes, simples!

Happy & Glorious: how we create a bespoke opera show

We’re often asked to create special shows for clients at Hatstand Opera, and we very much enjoy crafting a great evening’s entertainment based around the client, the venue, the audience and a theme – or more likely, all four!

So, when the Lower Bourne Show committee invited us back for our third visit this year, we decided to create something special for this popular event, as the performance date fell between the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics. It seemed fitting to create a show that combined a sense of pomp and circumstance with a sense of anticipation that Team GB might actually win a medal!

We often find our best show titles at the bottom of a bottle of Chardonnay, but this one, appropriately enough, just required a pot of rather nice Lady Grey tea – “Victorious, Happy & Glorious”

You might think the music comes next, but due to logistics and the time required to sell a show, it’s actually the brochure copy (selling text) and the flyer design.

Kirsty writes the words to fit what we think we might sing (i.e. keep it generic!) and soprano Toni does the artwork – she’s a real whizz at Photoshop!

Now that the print is underway, we choose music that fits the event-specific criteria:

• regal, sporting, or British (all 3 is a push!)
• suitable for an audience who come for a picnic and a great night out
• suitable for a marquee – so that rules out anything very low, very quiet or exceptionally wordy if it’s windy
• includes the client’s favourites – G&S esp. The Gondoliers, anything with a military connection, and “Nella Fantasia”!
• in the repertoire of our cast of soprano, mezzo, baritone

That gives us a list of at least 40 numbers to choose from, and it’s at this point that the top secret Hatstand show recipe is applied. Of course we’re not going to tell you exactly what that entails, but suffice to say it involves checking the compatibility of one item to the next, the flow of fun and emotion in each half, who has sung more than three in a row, and who doesn’t need to sing two solos in every show (usually Kirsty…)

Finally, we work out the look of the show, pull together costumes, props and set decorations, and check it all works as a cohesive whole. And if (when) it does, we can work these bespoke shows up into our main touring show for the next year if required.

If you want to see and hear the results, see our HSO performance diary for details on how to get your tickets!

Top 20 opera highlights by Hatstand Opera

We confess, we are suckers for those “Top 100″ TV shows that list everything from gadgets to YouTube videos. So, we decided to create our own list based on our years of performing opera highlights across the UK.

This list may not have been voted for by the Great British Public, but it’s certainly heavily influenced by what we found most audiences enjoy – and ask us to sing again next time!

The figures are drawn from our performance database, in which we have recorded each performance we have sung since September 1998, and what music we sang at it. (We were performing from December 1992 onwards, but we didn’t have the software then!)

It’s interesting to see what has stood the test of time, and it’s not always what we expected either… So, here are the top 20 opera excerpts we have sung, and the number of times we have sung them!

title opera composer no of times sung
1 Champagne Die Fledermaus Strauss, J 335
2 Flower Duet Lakmé Delibes 307
3 Goodbye The White Horse Inn Stolz 294
4 Brindisi la Traviata Verdi 287
5 Quando m’en vo La bohème Puccini 235
6 La ci darem Don Giovanni Mozart 228
7 Barcarolle The Tales of Hoffmann Offenbach 199
8 O soave fanciulla La bohème Puccini 190
9 Seguidilla Carmen Bizet 174
10 Che gelida manina La bohème Puccini 171
11 Soave sia il vento Cosi fan Tutte Mozart 158
12 Prima Donna Trio The Impressario Mozart 140
13 Sull aria The Marriage of Figaro Mozart 139
14 Fly duet Orpheus in the Underworld Offenbach 139
15 Au fond du temple saint The Pearl Fishers Bizet 135
16 No I declare The Merry Wives of Windsor Nicolai 130
17 Nessun dorma Turandot Puccini 130
18 Chi il bel sogno La Rondine Puccini 128
19 Olga’s aria Eugene Onegin Tchaikovsky 127
20 Have a little priest Sweeney Todd Sondheim 118


As you can see, the top composer honour goes to Puccini with five entries, and runner-up is Mozart with four entries. We might add that we have over 1000 items on our database, so your favourite might well be in there…

HSO go all romantic at Frinton on Sea

HSO are back in Frinton on Sea again this summer with Romance at the Opera, where sparks fly, passion ignites and love explodes like stars.

Join Hatstand for melting romantic moments and divine declarations of love – and some of the moments when the course of true love n’er runs so smooth!

Frinton’s favourite opera company present a mixed bouquet of vocal delights for the romantic in everyone, including a lovestruck Puccini poet, a flighty wife and a naughty diplomat.

And of course, in true Hatstand Opera style, there’s a minx or a madam causing mayhem and mischief in there too…


New show in July 2012

It’s time to celebrate with Hatstand Opera! Break out the bunting, bring a flag or two and generally have a super time with gold-winning opera, regal operetta and songs that glitter like diamonds. This a show to put you in first place for enjoyment and fun, and runs rings round anything else you’ll see this July (in a marquee in Surrey on a Saturday night)!

Ok, enough with the tie-ins, this is a unique show created by Hatstand Opera especially for the 2012 Bourne Show. Book a table, bring a picnic, and share with friends/guests/VIPs before the show – just remember to save your puds for the interval and your cash for the bar! (You provide the picnic, we’ll provide tables of 8, and chairs.)

It’s all in a good cause too, with profits going to our chosen charity this year, The Royal British Legion. Forget that ‘lost’ invite to the Buckingham Palace garden party, Lower Bourne Green is the place to be seen.

So, book your table and join in the fun – hip, hip, hooray!

HSO back on the Isle of Wight

Hatstand Opera are back on the Isle of Wight tomorrow (Sat 21 April) for a great evening of opera highlights as part of the Isle of Arts festival in Ventnor.

It’s going to be a nostalgic trip for Hatstand’s director Kirsty, whose family had a holiday home in Ryde on the Island for many years.

“I have fond memories of making the journey from Winchester to Southampton to catch the ferry in a car stuffed to the gunnels with swim gear, deckchairs, wellies, fishing gear, and everything else required for the annual two weeks’ summer holiday with the cousins, include two canoes strapped to the roof rack. (Much like travelling with all the Hatstand gear, except think piano, frocks, heels and props – and no canoes.)

The holiday really started when we got on the ferry, carrying our grouchy old dachshund up the steep stairs from the car deck so he could stand on top deck and bark at the seagulls! Once we passed the Solent lightbouy, it was time for a drink, including a pot of tea for Grandma and a Hubbly Bubbly soft drink for me (anyone else remember those?)  Nothing was wasted, as the dachshund got the tea dregs, complete with tea leaves, which he loved!

Finally, we’d see Cowes in the distance, and the excitement of slipping past the yachts before driving gingerly up the ramp without bumping the tailgate!

So, if you’re on Southampton Water tomorrow, and see a very excited mezzo on the 2pm Red Funnel ferry from Southampton munching a toasted teacake, give me a wave!”

And if you’re on the Isle of Wight, we still have some tickets left for the show at St Catherine’s Church in Ventnor – 7.30pm start.