Artistic Director: Ben Woodward
Ben Woodward – Musical Director: Ben was born in Staffordshire, and was educated at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, and was then Organ Scholar at Trinity College, Cambridge.His operatic experiences began in New York when he was asked to repetiteur for Salome for the One World Symphony, just three days before rehearsals began. After this baptism of fire, he was then asked back to repetiteur and chorus-master Peter Grimes and Elektra.He returned to London in 2007, and on meeting Fiona Williams, conducted La Cenerentola in St John’s Fulham. He has since worked with Opera de Baugé as repetiteur on La traviata and chorus master for Rigoletto and Die Zauberflöte, English Chamber Opera as assistant conductor on Cosi fan tutte, Focus Opera as assistant conductor on Don Giovanni and Opera Links as pianist for a workshop performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream.
He has recently completed his MMus at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and whilst doing that worked on Parsifal Act II with Fulham Opera and conducted L’elisir d’amore for Chelmsford Opera.
As Artistic Director of Music @ the Heart of Fulham, he has instituted a recital series at the church, which has included playing a Brandenburg 5 and the Goldberg Variations, has recently conducted Messiah, the Duruflé Requiem, Brahms Deutsches Requiem, Bach St John Passion, Mozart Requiem, two performances of Tallis’s 40-voice motet “Spem in Alium”, and the British premere of J.D. Heinichen’s Mass in F, which he himself edited from source.
Director: Fiona Williams
Fiona trained on ENO’s performance skills course, The Knack. Her credits include Carmen (Carmen), Third Lady, Second and Third Boy (The Magic Flute), Dorabella (Cosi fan tutte), Suzuki (Madama Butterfly), Ino (Semele), Mrs Peachum (Beggar’s Opera), Second Witch (Dido and Anaeas) and Thisbe (Cenerentola).
Fiona has also: worked as a recitalist; spent three summers with the Opera Holland Park Chorus; appeared as a nun in BBC One’s Murphy’s Law; performed as alto soloist in Handel’s Messiah; recorded the background music for Terrence Rattigan’s The Browning Version at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre; and, formed part of Opera North’s BlankEducation team. She now mainly works as a director. Her directorial credits include La Cenerentola and Don Giovanni for TellTale Opera and Amahl and the Night Visitors, Parsifal (Act 2) and Die Walküre (Act 1) for Music at the Heart of Fulham. Fiona has just finished working as Assistant Director to Liam Steel on Le Nozze di Figaro for Opera Holland Park where she has previously assisted Olivia Fuchs on Kat’a Kabanova and Fidelio.
Janet Fischer (Treasurer)
Nick Fletcher is a conductor, répetiteur and accompanist based in London, and is a graduate of Edinburgh University, the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied Piano accompaniment with Julius Drake and Iain Ledingham, and currently studies at the National Opera Studio. Recent work includes conducting Gianni Schicchi for Fulham Opera, with whom he has also performed Das Rheingold and Götterdämmerung in piano reduction to excellent reviews. Recent work includes developing Lament with Silent Opera, which visited the Tête-à-Tête and Grimebourn festivals, and with which he will be making his debut at the Aldeburgh festival this summer. Nick has worked with Opera Companies such as OperaUpClose, Royal Academy Opera, Edinburgh Studio Opera and Ryedale Festival Opera on works ranging from L’Orfeo to La Boheme. He is also devoted to the song repertoire, and recently conducted a small concert tour of Schubert’s Winterreise with countertenor Simon Ponsford. Nick will be taking up a place at the National Opera Studio this September and is generously supported by a Help Musicians UK Postgraduate Award.
Michael Thrift is an Australian conductor and former Associate Conductor of the Sydney Youth Orchestra. He moved to London in 2013 and is currently Assistant Conductor of the Oxford University Sinfonietta and the London Firebird Orchestra. A passionate advocate for new music and a former Australian Young Composer of the Year, he is an active part of the London new music scene. In 2013 he was the conductor at the inaugural Composer’s Academy at the Cheltenham Festival and has worked with the Dr. K Sextet in both Cheltenham and London. In 2014 Michael joined the team at Fulham Opera to assist with a production of Verdi’s Falstaff, and recently lead a production of Puccini’s Il Tabarro. During his time in Sydney, Michael held guest conductor positions with numerous ensembles alongside his position at Sydney Youth Orchestra, including the Kuringai Philharmonic Orchestra, Kuringai Youth Orchestra, Beecroft Orchestra and the East Sydney Chamber Orchestra. He also founded the Sydney Chamber Ensemble. This wide orchestral experience allowed him to build a broad repertoire, with recent highlights including symphonies of Dvořák, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven, the orchestral works of Bach and Haydn and twentieth century scores of Walton and Stravinsky. Michael’s conducting studies have taken him to Vienna under Salvador Mas Conde and Jörg Bierhance, to Graz under Achim Holub, where he placed third in the 2012 Competition for Conductors with the Kammerphilharmonie Graz, and most recently to Aberystwyth, where he studied with Toby Purser. Before becoming a conductor, Michael studied composition at the University of Sydney with Anne Boyd, Ian Shanahan and Matthew Hindson, and has had his work performed by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the Sydney Eclectic Composers Society.
Robert Presley was a much loved member of Fulham Opera’s board, and had the initial idea of doing Das Rheingold. He died of a sudden heart attack on 10th April 2013, and is much missed. An obituary, written by Ian Wilson-Pope, our Wotan is here. A singing competition has been created in his memory.