Kingham Life

Singing from the roof tops: Longborough Festival Opera

Longborough Festival Opera

We are blessed to have a vibrant music scene locally during the summer months and the largest event on the musical calendar is Longborough Festival Opera.

Longborough Festival Opera is an example of the fabulous passion of Martin and Lizzie Graham to promote opera in a small setting without any public subsidy to people equally passionate about opera.  Established in 1991 at their home in Banks Fee they developed a relationship over several years with Travelling Opera from Stratford-upon-Avon which performed in their stable block.  Building up a loyal following and proving the case for this style of opera, they moved to Longborough in 1995 and started to develop an altogether bigger vision.

Banks Fee Opera

Banks Fee Opera

Having re-developed the barn of the house, cleverly salvaging the old seating from the refurbishment of the Royal Opera House by 1998 they began to reveal their true colours as Wagner devotees.  In 2001 they started working with The Opera Project, a leading opera production company and together they gained a reputation for providing a platform for new singers to launch their careers.

Longborough Opera House

Longborough Opera House

The Ring Cycle

For the next few years they performed the ‘baby ring’ as they enlarged the opera house to take a bigger orchestra and improve the acoustics until they were ready to perform their first full ring cycle in 2007 with Das Rheingold, Gotterdammerung in 2012 and by 2013 they ‘arrived at the feet of the mountain we had set ourselves to climb…we managed to pull off three Ring cycles’ with Der Ring des Nibelungen.  This last opera was declared by its first director, Anthony Freud in 1876 to be ‘the high-water mark of our art form, the most massive challenge any opera company can undertake.’

Incredibly the opportunity to hear this and many other operas are 20 minutes away from Kingham Cottages.  Needless to say, Chris and Delphie are devotees are Delphie spends much of her summer making wonderful picnics from Chris’ home grown fruit and veg to enjoy in the intervals looking out over the stunning views from the gardens of Longborough Festival Opera.


2017: Wagner/Tristan und Isolde, Beethoven/Fidelio, Mozart/The Magic Flute, Gluck/Orfeo ed Euridice.

Appropriate Attire

For some, what to wear is an eternal quandary.  Having an emphasis on accessibility for audience as well as participants, Longborough Festival Opera recommends the avoidance of high heels for practical reasons and a warm layer for chilly evenings but otherwise be comfortable (though many choose to wear black tie).   Therefore, Delphie was intrigued to see an opera hat at her last visit.

Opera Hat

The workings of an opera hat

Opera hats, known as gibus after their inventor, Antoine Gibus, were invented in Paris around 1840 for the purpose of being able to stash the hat under one’s seat during the performance.  Therefore, solving the problem of what on earth to do with a hat at the opera.  Needless to say these are now rare accoutrements at the opera but, ladies and gentlemen, you never know what you will see at Longborough Festival Opera!

Gibus or Opera Hat

Gibus or Opera Hat

2019 season 5th June – 3rd August.



Longborough Opera House