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Great knight at the opera

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Baritone and national treasure Sir Tom Allen at West Green House

“THERE is power, and there is glorious tone, in his lovely baritone voice. But what you appreciate more is the skill and subtlety with which he uses it," said a review of Sir Thomas Allen’s recent concert at Bridgewater Hall Manchester. I, too, have been in awe of this national treasure since working with him at Chelsea Arts Festival in the early noughties. For more than 40 years, Sir Thomas has delighted opera audiences across the world. He has made many of the iconic operatic roles his own, notably Billy Budd, Eugene Onegin and Don Giovanni, all of which he has performed in all the major opera houses all over the world. His sublime baritone voice, coupled with an extraordinary acting talent and ability to communicate, sets him apart as one of the finest operatic performers of our age. His profile is further extended by an outstanding career on the concert platform, in the recording studio and, since 2003, an extensive and acclaimed reputation as a director in the UK and the US.

Beyond performance, Sir Thomas has been awarded numerous academic accolades including the Chancellorship of Durham University and the visiting professorship of Opera Studies at Oxford University. No wonder then, that his encouragement of young performers now ranks highly in his continuously busy life but it is with characteristic self deprecation that he counts one of his greatest achievements as the naming of a Eurostar locomotive Sir Thomas Allen.

Sir Thomas will be making an appearance at West Green House Opera, Hartley Witney, for a concert created specially for their season. In partnership with his friend and close colleague, West Green’s artistic director William Relton, the evening will begin with a conversation reflecting on Sir Tom’s wide ranging career and influences, followed by performances of some of his favourite works to piano accompaniment. In the second half of the programme, Sir Tom will work with Rowan Pierce, a young English soprano and Samling Artist in a short masterclass before the evening concludes with a joint performance.

The performance will take place in the Green Theatre at West Green House which is fully seated and under cover, on Friday, July 29 (7pm). Picnics are welcomed in the Lakefield from 5pm and during the 45-minute interval. The Lakefield cocktail bar will be open throughout the evening and after the performance, when the gardens of West Green House will be beautifully illuminated to complete a very special evening.

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