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Fiona Shaw to host gala for new group supporting women in opera

Fiona Shaw. Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen
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Fiona Shaw is to an host an all-female concert marking the inaugural event of an organisation set up to support women and parents in opera.

SWAP’ra, which stands for Supporting Women and Parents in Opera, was set up in February 2018 by five female artists who are hoping to improve working conditions in the sector.

SWAP’ra launches to support women and parents working in opera

The charitable organisation’s inaugural event will take place on July 31, and will feature an an all-female orchestra.

Artists in the line up include conductor and gala music director Jessica Cottis, directors Lucy Bradley and Karen Gillingham and singers Giselle Allen, Yvonne Howard, Jennifer Johnston, Janis Kelly, Diana Montague, and Amanda Roocroft.

Music from operas including Le Nozze di Figaro, Madama Butterfly, and Eugene Onegin as well as contemporary work by female composers Elena Langer, Roxanna Panufnik and Josephine Stephenson will feature in the concert.

The gala will showcase nearly 40 soloists, from emerging artists to some of the leading figures in opera.

Cottis said: “I am delighted to be part of this inaugural gala, celebrating the wealth of female talent in opera here in the UK.

“All our performers—soloists, chorus, orchestral musicians and conductors are women, and we’ve specifically chosen repertoire that features strong female characters.”

James Clutton, director of opera at Opera Holland Park, said: “I am incredibly proud to be associated with SWAP’ra.

“There have been far too many examples of bad working practices exposed recently. Things need to change. Working with SWAP’ra points to a new way of looking at working practices in opera, while being realistic about the unusual nature of the business itself.”

Funds raised by the gala will go towards the work of the organisation, which will initially include providing performance opportunities to celebrate female creatives, establishing mentoring schemes and setting up round table discussions.

The organisation is also aiming to set up a ‘coaching creche’ where parents can come together to share childcare during coaching and rehearsals and create an annual grant scheme to support parents wishing to return to careers in opera.