King’s Head to relaunch as Little Opera House

Natalie Woolman

Fringe venue the King’s Head Theatre will be re-launched as London’s Little Opera House next month, 40 years after the Islington pub theatre first opened.

Shopping and Fucking author Mark Ravenhill has been appointed associate director of the rebranded venue under artistic director Adam Spreadbury-Maher and will write and direct two operas for the theatre during 2011. Opera director Jonathan Miller is now one of the venue’s patrons, and plans to direct there also.

Spreadbury-Maher, who became artistic director of the King’s Head earlier this year, said he wanted audiences to view London’s Little Opera House as an alternative to English National Opera and the Royal Opera House and that tickets will cost no more than £15 in the venue’s first season.

“The Royal Opera House and ENO put on the most beautiful, world-class productions. If you want to see the world’s most beautiful, grandest opera, head for those two wonderful buildings,” he said.

“Whereas, if you want an alternative experience, like going to the Almeida or the Bush instead of the National, then you would go to the King’s Head.

“It provides a unique experience for existing opera-goers to come and take a look and take a chance at a low risk [price] but it will really pull down some of the pre-conceived barriers that other people might have about going to opera by making it a more informal environment.”

Spreadbury-Maher is also artistic director of the Cock Tavern and companies Good Night Out Presents and Opera Up Close. Both will remain resident companies of the relaunched theatre. London’s Little Opera House will open with The Barber of Seville (or Salisbury), a new version of Rossini’s opera by Robin Norton-Hale, who has transported the action to England at the turn of the 19th century. It will run from October 6 to November 13, with press night on October 14.

The new season will also include a new version of Madama Butterfly and the British premiere of Sound of A Voice by Philip Glass.

The King’s Head Theatre opened in 1970 under the artistic leadership of Dan Crawford who ran the theatre until his death in 2005. Crawford’s partner, Stephanie Sinclaire, owns the venue.

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