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Hand Made Opera was founded by Colin Baldy and Gulliver Ralston in 2000. The express purpose was to make opera available to those venues and areas of the country where full-scale professional opera was difficult to mount. To this end, the sets are deliberately kept as simple as possible, enabling us to appear in churches, hotels, country houses and halls as well as real theatres. The company has performed in venues around the UK and in Europe, and has appeared on Maltese National Television. Great attention is paid to the production and musical standards of the company. Accordingly, it was decided at the outset to form a ten-piece orchestra to accompany productions rather than make do simply with a piano. Several of the arrangements of works in the repertory have been specially commissioned by us. The intention has always been to provide as near an experience as possible to seeing opera in a full-sized opera house. Since its inception, the company has also run courses with leading performers and teachers in the UK and abroad.

Colin Baldy

 

Colin's career encompasses performing, teaching, writing and directing. As a singer, he is known principally as a character baritone, having worked for many years with companies such as Garsington Opera, Opera Restor'd, The New Savoyards, Opera Interludes, Country Opera etc. Such roles have included Sempronio (Lo Speziale), Don Alfonso (Cosi fan Tutte), Geronimo (Il Matrimonio Segreto), Bartolo (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Sorceress (Dido and Aeneas) to name but a few. In addition, Colin has performed much contemporary music with groups such as the London Sinfonietta, Phoenix and New Chamber Opera. In 2000, Colin formed Hand Made Opera with Gulliver Ralston and went on to appear as the soloist in their production of Maxwell Davies' Eight Songs for a Mad King, a role he has previously performed for the Oxford Contemporary Music Festival.

Colin has sung frequently on BBC Radios Two and Three, and has made several CDs; most recently appearing as Bass soloist in Bach's St John Passion (Naxos).

As a teacher, Colin has had a long association with the University of Oxford, having been, for many years, the singing teacher at New College. Now, however, he splits his teaching between London and Umbria. He receives frequent invitations to teach around the world, and is a visiting professor at Utah State University (USA), and on the Cisternino choral course, Italy. He is also a director of the Scheggino Advanced Course for Singers in Umbria.

Colin has directed productions of Cosi fan tutte (two productions), Le nozze di Figaro, Il Seraglio, Trial by Jury (three productions), Il barbiere di Siviglia, L'elisir d'amore, The old maid and the thief, L'enfant et les sortileges, Riders to the Sea, Dido and

Aeneas and Venus and Adonis.

In 2002, Colin published a book on vocal technique for the RSCM (Voice for Life, 5) and has also been published by The Guardian, Church Music Quarterly and The Independent. His latest book, The Student Voice, aimed at anyone who is serious about working on their voice, is published by Dunedin Academic Press in March 2009. (www.dunedinacademicpress.co.uk)

 

Nicoletta Conti

 

Based in Bologna, Italy, Nicoletta started her career as assistant to Leonard Bernstein and made her debut with the Orchestra dell'Accademia di Santa Cecilia. At the Capitol she received the prestigious Minerva Prize for the arts, the first Italian musician to be awarded it. She has since collaborated with important festivals and opera compaines, including Covent Garen, Opera Hollland Park, the Teatro Comunale in Florence, the Teatro Comunale in Bologna, the Rossini Opera Festival, and the Festival of the Itria Valley. She has worked with numerous famous singers, including Luciano Pavarotti, Renato Bruson, Leo Nucci, Daniela Dessi, Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu, with whom she has made several CDs.

On the concert platform, Nicoletta has conducted orchestras including: Orchestra Arturo Toscanini, Orchestra of the Arena di Verona, the Tanglewood Music Festival Orchestra, Orchestra Regionale Toscana, the Kiushu Symphony Orchestra, the Hungarian Symphonic Orchestra, Orchestra Sinfonica Citta di Ferrara, Orchestra da Camera di Bologna, Orchestra "I Filarmonici di Bologna", Orchestra Filarmonica di Torino, Orchestra "I Pomeriggi Musicali di Milano", Stuttgarter Filarmoniker. www.nicolettaconti.com

 

Alfonso Romero

 

Born in Madrid, he began his musical studies at an early age, obtaining his title as piano professor. For six years he was director and founder of various choruses with which he worked above all on the barroque and Renaissance repertoire. At the same time, he took specialised courses in baroque organ, harpsichord and choral direction, given by acclaimed teachers of these styles.

 

Assistant directorin the Teatro Real Madrid since it reopened in 1997, he has collaborated with recognized directors such as J.Carlos Plaza, Francisco Nieva, Hugo de Ana, Sergio Renan, Josep Maria Flotats, Giancarlo del Mónaco, Werner Herzog, Nicolas Jöel, Jerome Savary, Eliah Moshinsky, Willy Decker, John Dew, Pier Luigi Pizzi and Herbert Wernicke, as well as the choreographers Nacho Duato, Victor Ullate and Pina Bausch.

 

In 1998, he collaborated as assistant director in the world premiere in Lisbon of the Ópera “Corvo Branco” by Fhilip Glass, directed by Bob Wilson.

 

Since 2004 he works at the State-Theatre Darmstadt as assistant director under the artistic director John Dew.

 

As a director he made his debut with a production of “La voix humaine” of Poulenc (2003). In Darmstadt he produced “La serva padrona” of G. B. Pergolessi (2005). Both productions were a big success both with the public and the critics.

 

He won the 3rd price at the European Competition of Stage Directing in Wiesbaden (2005) with his production of “La Cenerentola” of G. Rossini and was substitute semi finalist at the International Competition of Opera Directing in Granz (2005) with his project of “Le Nozze di Figaro” of W. A. Mozart. www.alfonso-romero.com