The Essex Summer Opera Festival

The Essex Summer Opera Festival

The Essex Summer Opera Festival is almost sold out—book your tickets now to avoid missing what is set to be an exquisite event!


“A fine young cast excel, with engaging energy and superb singing.”

The Guardian

“Wild Arts’ opera evenings are of a breathtakingly high, ROH-level musical standard—a gorgeous quintet of musicians and a most cunning choice of excerpts, mischievously well-acted. I’d follow them anywhere.”

Libby Purves


Get ready to experience the only summer opera festival in East Anglia that combines the perfect mix of affordable, world-class music and stunning heritage surroundings! The Essex Summer Opera Festival is a collaboration between Wild Arts and the owners of the magnificent Tudor Palace, Layer Marney Tower near Colchester, Nicholas and Sheila Charrington.

For three days, immerse yourself in the festival's jovial and down-to-earth atmosphere, where you  can picnic and explore Layer Marney's breathtaking 120-acre grounds. And that's not all! With intimate performances, immediate storytelling, and staging tailored to suit the 240-seater venue, you'll be transported to a world of opera like never before.

The festival is dedicated to inclusivity and environmentally friendly performances, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the magic of opera. Plus, with future plans to stage some of the world’s most famous operas, including Mozart's The Magic Flute and Verdi's La Traviata, led by renowned directors, you won't want to miss out.

In essence, the Essex Summer Opera Festival really is the perfect opportunity to grab your friends, pack a picnic, and join us for a truly unforgettable experience that you'll cherish for years to come!



One of the most beloved of all Donizetti’s operas, The Elixir of Love is full of romance and mischievous comedy, fully staged in costume and sung in English by a stunning cast.

The sparkling comedy of the hapless Nemorino, hopelessly in love with the beautiful Adina, will be brought to life by an outstanding young cast of singers, including rising star soprano Galina Averina.

  • Stage Director Guido Martin-Brandis
  • Designer Sophie Lincoln
  • Music Director Orlando Jopling
  • Translation Joseph Morris

The Wild Arts Ensemble

  • Leader Sijie Chen
  • Adina Galina Averina
  • Nemorino Thomas Elwin
  • Belcore James Atkinson
  • Dulcamara Alex Jones
  • Giannetta Sofia Kirwan-Baez
  • Lauretta Rebecca Milford
  • Claudio Harry Jacques
  • Roberto Robert Garland

Performances are presented in two halves of around 50 minutes each. Playing to intimate audiences of 240 per show, the result is drama and storytelling at its most immediate and relatable. The creative format also seeks to counter the resource-heavy nature of traditional opera production and explore more sustainable presentation.

Experience captivating storytelling and stunning vocals in a magical setting. With affordable ticket prices and free transfers from the local train station in a vintage Routemaster bus, it's the perfect opportunity for seasoned opera fans and newcomers alike to immerse themselves in the world of opera.



The ultimate opera insider experience

Arrival: From 6pm to enjoy the gardens before the performance

Performance: 7–9.15pm (15-min interval)

Tickets: £25–£55


Arrival: From 5.30pm to enjoy the gardens and a picnic before the performance

Performance: 7–9.45pm (30-min interval)

Tickets: £35–£75, boxes available


Arrival: From 4pm to enjoy the gardens before the performance

Performance: 6–9.45pm (90-min picnic interval)

Tickets: £35–£85


Relaxed daytime performance, perfect for families

Arrival: From midday to enjoy the gardens and a picnic before the performance

Performance: 3–5.45pm (30-min interval)

Tickets: £25–£65, under-25s £10

Head to our online box office to select your preferred seat from our detailed seating plan:

Enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Layer Marney Gardens

Layer Marney Tower, home to the Essex Summer Opera Festival, is England's tallest Tudor Gatehouse, providing an opportunity to be immersed in rich history and stunning beauty. This magnificent Tudor Palace, built in the 1520s as a statement house by Henry, 1st Lord Marney, King Henry VIII’s Lord Privy Seal, boasts commanding views over the River Blackwater and beyond.

As a Grade 1 listed building, built in rich red brick and hosting some of the finest Italianate terracotta in the country, Layer Marney Tower is the perfect venue for the festival. Set in 120-acre grounds with woodland, streams, and farm animals, visitors can explore the beautiful terraced gardens and indulge in delicious treats at the tearoom. And for those who want to extend their stay, private apartments and luxurious tents, complete with hot tubs, are available for a glamping experience in partnership with Featherdown Farms.

The Essex Summer Opera Festival will be hosted in the Opera Barn, an ancient structure with excellent acoustics that has recently been extensively refurbished, providing an intimate and engaging atmosphere to enjoy first-class music performances. After the resounding success of last year’s inaugural Essex Summer Opera Festival, this three-day event promises to be even more spectacular, with a mesmerising lineup of performances that will leave you spellbound. If you can't make it to Layer Marney for these dates, don't worry! You can find performances at four other stunning venues, culminating at the majestic Hever Castle (more details can be found at


Founded in 2022 by renowned musician Orlando Jopling, Wild Arts delivers world-class musical performances that are not only breathtaking but also sustainable for the planet. Our commitment to making opera fresh and enjoyable is demonstrated through our annual Essex Summer Opera Festival, Roman River Festival, and concerts by the Wild Arts Ensemble.

Wild Arts is leading the way in the performing arts industry, demonstrating that we can produce incredible performances while also supporting the planet's ability to regenerate. We use the power of storytelling to ignite positive change and make a difference in the world.

Wild Arts' long-term goal is to create a sustainably-built performance space and music education centre set in a biodiverse re-wilding environment that includes people from all walks of life. We are proud to have some exceptional patrons, including Donald Macleod, Jeremy Sams, and Roderick Williams OBE, who reflect our world-class standards.


Orlando Jopling is a conductor and cellist. He works as a guest conductor and music staff at the Royal Opera House, the Royal Ballet, English Chamber Orchestra, LMP, and English National Ballet. He has conducted over 25 opera productions with Savoy Opera, Carl Rosa, Independent Opera,  British Youth Opera, and the Schönbrunn Orchestra. He co-founded Tête à Tête and Stanley Hall Opera, conducting five seasons of Mozart, Verdi, and Rossini. Having grown up in Colchester, Orlando is passionate about celebrating Essex.


As part of our commitment to young artists, the festival will offer a unique opportunity for young artists to perform and understudy the main roles, providing them with an immersive and invaluable experience of a professional opera company. Under the guidance of our patrons and music staff, these young artists will attend rehearsals, learn from established performers, and receive one-on-one coaching.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for aspiring singers to hone their skills in a real-world setting and take their first steps towards a successful career in opera.


Over 300 pupils from eight Essex schools will have the unique opportunity to participate in our exciting first education project, funded by The Hervey Benham and FSJ Trusts and the Essex Arts & Culture Fund.

The project, run by Rebecca Milford, will offer interactive workshops based on a specially adapted version of our 2023 production of Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love, which will introduce pupils to the story and music of this timeless opera. As a grand finale, pupils will have the privilege of attending the dress rehearsal of the full show in the Opera Barn at Layer Marney Tower on Thursday 15th June.

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