Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Polly Graham to become artistic director of Longborough Festival Opera

11:11, 20th February 2018

Polly Graham is to become artistic director of Longborough Festival Opera.

The 33-year-old opera director, daughter of festival founders Martin and Lizzie Graham, will take up the new role with immediate effect, combining it with her independent directing career.

Graham spent two years as Genesis assistant director at Welsh National Opera, mentored by David Poutney. She received the Independent Opera Director Fellowship 2016 and was nominated as Best Newcomer 2017 at the International Opera Awards. Her directing work includes Le Vin Herbé (WNO), Simplicius Simplicissimus (Independent Opera at Sadlers Wells), the UK premiere of Iain Bell’s A Christmas Carol (Trento/ WNO), Unheard Voices: CREW (WNO) and Kommilitonen! (WNO), and she has run education projects for Glyndebourne, ENO, WNO and Opera Sonic. She has recently founded her own company, Loud Crowd.

Martin and Lizzie Graham began promoting opera in the grounds of their home in 1991 as Banks Fee Opera. The site’s 500-seat opera house opened in 1997, and Longborough Festival Opera has become known for showcasing upcoming Wagner singers.

Martin Graham is chair of the board of trustees, and Lizzie Graham ran the shows for 24 years as festival director. She retired at the end of the 2014 season, appointing Jennifer Smith as general manager, but has remained actively involved in Longborough’s artistic planning and strategic direction. Martin and Lizzie will both remain ‘deeply involved’ in the festival.

Polly Graham said: ‘As a family we are so proud of Longborough and have long talked about its future. But it is only recently that I have felt ready to take on the challenge of leading it forward.’

‘I intend to build on the spirit of the festival, which has been willfully daring and ambitious, by expanding repertoire and commissioning new work. My aim is to share great opera with as many people as possible.’


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