Formed in 1959 by Sir Neville Marriner and a group of London’s leading orchestral players, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields was instrumental in the 1960s Baroque revival. Since then its repertoire has broadened considerably, with its discography now numbering more than 1,000 releases. Today, it divides its time between recording, UK concerts and overseas tours. In 1993 the Academy became the first orchestra to receive a Queen’s Award for Export Achievement and four years later it was invited to Hong Kong to play for the official hand-over celebration, an engagement that included performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The Academy’s work with Opera Rara includes the recordings of Nelly Miricioiu – Rossini Gala, La Romanzesca e l’uomo nero, Zoraida di Granata and Ricciardo e Zoraide.
Formed in 1974 with a commitment to serve the Scottish community, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra is one of Scotland’s major cultural ambassadors, touring regularly in the Far East, Europe and the USA. The Orchestra is internationally recognised as one of the world’s foremost chamber orchestras and for its innovative approach to music-making and programme planning. The SCO’s Concert Season includes performances across Scotland, in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, St Andrews, Perth, Dumfries and Ayr. It also undertakes annual Highlands and South of Scotland tours and has played in over a hundred small communities throughout the country. The Orchestra appears regularly at the Edinburgh International Festival, the BBC Proms and the St Magnus (Orkney) and Aldeburgh Festivals. Its busy international touring schedule has recently included Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the USA, Spain, Portugal and The Netherlands.
The RPO was founded by Sir Thomas Beecham in 1946, picking up its Royal title in 1966. Its music directors have included Antal Dorati, Andre Previn and Vladimir Ashkenazy, and currently Daniele Gatti. The core of the orchestra’s concert work is its London series at the Royal Albert Hall and the Barbican, though it performs regularly throughout the UK and undertakes world tours. Included in its varied recorded output are three discs for Opera Rara: Donizetti’s Gabriella di Vergy, Meyerbeer’s Il crociato in Egitto and Offenbach’s Robinson Crusoe.
The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House was founded in 1946 as the Covent Garden Orchestra when the theatre reopened as the nation’s first permanent home for opera and ballet. Throughout its existence, the Orchestra has been distinguished by the number of top musicians who have joined its ranks and the outstanding roster of international conductors with whom it has played. It has been acclaimed by public and critics alike, and has won many awards.
At the beginning of the 2002/3 Season Antonio Pappano was appointed Music Director of The Royal Opera. Highlights of Pappano’s tenure have so far included Ariadne auf Naxos and Wozzeck (for which Pappano was awarded Olivier Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Opera), Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (Olivier Award for Best New Opera Production), Faust, Peter Grimes, Wagner’s Ring cycle, Don Carlo and the world premiere of Harrison Birtwistle’s The Minotaur. In September 2010 the Orchestra and The Royal Opera toured to Japan, performing Manon, La traviata and Mozart’s arrangement of Messiah under Pappano. Other performance highlights with visiting conductors include new productions of Adriana Lecouvreurand The Tsar’s Bride under Mark Elder, of Tannhäuser under Semyon Bychkov and of Cendrillon under Bertrand de Billy.
The Orchestra records regularly with both The Royal Ballet and The Royal Opera. Their CD recordings with Pappano include two discs of Wagner highlights with Plácido Domingo and Tristan und Isolde with Domingo and Nina Stemme, released in 2005. The Orchestra regularly appear on DVD with The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet, both on their own label Opus Arte and on other labels including Opera Rara (Roberto Devereux, Dom Sébastien, roi de Portugal and Linda di Chamounix) and EMI. The Orchestra can also be heard accompanying The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet in Big Screen Events in the UK, and in cinema screenings transmitted worldwide.
The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment is a world-renowned orchestra, which plays on original instruments to bring out the very best of classical music as it was intended to be heard. Its players lead the Orchestra themselves with a commitment, enjoyment and energy which translates directly into the quality, vitality and dynamism of each performance. The Orchestra has chosen to have no permanent music director; this flexibility allows it to work with some of the world’s greatest conductors and soloists across a wide range of music. The Orchestra’s uniquely versatile and pioneering spirit of music making encourages a warmth and involvement, which makes every performance an edge-of-the-seat experience for performers and audiences alike.
The LSO was founded in 1904 by players seceding from the Henry Wood Queens Hall Orchestra. Since then it has had 11 principal conductors, including Hans Richter (its first), Edward Elgar, Claudio Abbado, Sir Colin Davis and currently Valery Gergiev. The orchestra took up residence at London’s Barbican Centre in 1984 and refined its approach to programming, introducing the themed festivals that are now a regular feature, attracting the likes of Rostropovich, Pierre Boulez and Anne-Sophie Mutter. The LSO is heard on two Opera Rara releases: Donizetti’s Maria Padilla and Della Jones Sings Donizetti.
The London Philharmonic Orchestra is recognised as one of the world’s great orchestras, and following Sir Thomas Beecham’s founding tenure the ensemble’s Principal Conductorship has been passed from one celebrated musician to another. In the 2007/08 season, the London Philharmonic Orchestra celebrated its seventy-fifth birthday and inaugurated Vladimir Jurowski as its new Principal Conductor. It is the only symphony orchestra in the UK to combine an annual subscription concert season with regular work in the opera house – resident at both the Royal Festival Hall and Glyndebourne Festival Opera. Touring forms a significant part of the Orchestra’s performing schedule, and it regularly appears in North America, Europe and the Far East, often headlining at major festivals and concert-hall openings. The Orchestra’s international reputation is matched by a steadfast and unflinching commitment to the communities of its local London boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham and it reaches thousands through its varied and extensive programme of education work, both community and school-based. The Orchestra can be heard on a number of Opera Rara recordings, including Rossini’s Bianca e Falliero, Meyerbeer’s Marghertia d’Anjou, Mercadante’s Emma d’Antiochia and Donizetti’s Pia de’ Tolomei and Il diluvio Universale.
Founded in 1949 by violinist Harry Blech, the London Mozart Players played at the opening week of London’s Royal Festival Hall and has performed on London’s South Bank every year since then. Rightly recognised for its performances of Mozart and other core classical repertoire, the orchestra has also commissioned – and continues to perform – many new works by British composers. The LMP tours extensively and under music director Matthias Bamert made an acclaimed debut at the Vienna Musikverein in 1996. It has recorded a highly acclaimed CD series, Contemporaries of Mozart, on Chandos Records and can be heard in excellent form on Opera Rara’s Offenbach pastiche Christopher Columbus.
The BBC Symphony Orchestra has played a central role at the heart of British musical life since its inception in 1930. It provides the backbone of the BBC Proms with around a dozen concerts each year, including the First and Last Nights, and is Associate Orchestra of the Barbican. The BBC SO has a strong commitment to 20th-century and contemporary music – recent years have seen the world premieres of BBC commissions by leading composers such as Elliott Carter, Brian Elias, Vic Hoyland, Matthias Pintscher, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Judith Weir. As Associate Orchestra of the Barbican, the BBC Symphony Orchestra performs an annual season of concerts there. The BBC SO works regularly with its Chief Conductor Jiří Bělohlávek, Principal Guest Conductor David Robertson, Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis and Artist in Association, Oliver Knussen. Central to the Orchestra’s life are studio recordings for BBC Radio 3 at the Orchestra’s Maida Vale home.