A HISTORY OF
PEGASUS OPERA COMPANY
The birth of the Pegasus Opera Company came about in 1992.
Pegasus was set up to create opportunities for young professional singers from all backgrounds to develop and perform in high quality and innovative opera productions.
Now in our 17th Year, Pegasus was set up as a mid-scale touring opera company to redress the balance for BME artists in the world of Opera in UK; but not exclusively for BME artists, as our policy is to reflect the community of London, one of the world’s great multicultural cities. Pegasus has done just that by casting all its productions multi-racially to reflect this vast multicultural community.
Our aims are also to demystify opera by making it accessible to as wide an audience as possible, with accompanying education and community programmes to develop new audiences through special workshops and outreach programmes.
Pegasus Opera has toured numerous productions over the years to mid-scale theatres in England and Scotland such as, Theatre Royal, Bristol; Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds; Bloomsbury Theatre, London; Gordon Craig Theatre; The Courtyard, Hereford; The Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch; MacRobert Arts Centre, Sterling; Pavilion Theatre, Worthing; Harrogate Theatre; Lawrence Batley Theatre; The Corn Exchange, Newbury; Connaught Theatre, Worthing; The Castle, Wellingborough; Arts Depot, Finchley; Northcott Theatre, Exeter; Newbury Spring Festival; Octagon Theatre, Yeovil; Sevenoaks Playhouse; South Hill Park, Bracknell; Corn Exchange, Kings Lynn; Oakengates Theatre, Telford; & Middlesbrough Theatre; we toured with productions such as Falstaff; Magic Flute; Carmen; L’elisir d’amore; Pagliacci; and others, the company also toured internationally to Zimbabwe in Africa.
Pegasus has developed important relationships throughout London and Greater London boroughs through its educational and outreach programmes. We have worked in numerous primary schools over the years (running workshop with thousands of primary school children). Our community programmes are designed to reach communities locally and nationally who would have little or no access to opera and opera education.
Pegasus Opera has performed in very high profile venues in London such as Linbury Theatre, Royal Opera House; the Barbican Concert Hall, where we performed Porgy and Bess with the BBC Concert Orchestra and an array of international opera stars conducted by the Wayne Marshall, to raise funds for Warchild and Hope and Homes for Children charities.
We have also performed a gala at Bloomsbury Theatre in honour of Stephen Lawrence (a young man from South London who was brutally murdered in a racist motivated attack) in order to raise the profile for the Stephen Lawrence Trust.
We have also given four performances at Sadler’s Wells Theatre of Koanga by Frederick Delius, to mark the bicentenary of the abolition of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade; we managed to attract a very diverse audience with 40%-45% of the audience from the Black and Minority Ethnic communities. Comments were made like “…this is London represented here tonight…”, & “…“Never…seen in any west end theatre…”
A feature of Koanga was the contribution of the Community Chorus, amateur BME singers enlisted from the local community to perform alongside the professional chorus for this production. The Chorus were delighted with their own finished product and amazed at their latent abilities, which some of them wished to continue to develop. As a result it was decided to recruit up to 40 aspiring amateur singers from the borough of Lambeth and beyond. This group is now established and receives weekly coaching and one-to-one training whilst they rehearse opera and concert pieces for public and private concert performances.
Pegasus can confirm that we have given many BME artists a solid start to their careers and some are now performing nationally and internationally. We have presented international soprano Alison Buchanan, who has sung for companies like New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera, Opera Company Philadelphia, among others. We have presented leading conductors from UK such as Gregory Rose, Odaline de la Martinez, Paul McGrath, Martin André and Directors such as Christopher Cowell, Helena Kaut-Howson to name but a few.
We have commissioned and performed a new opera, Uncle Remus for professional singers, members of the local community and 120 primary school children. It was composed by the brilliant young composer Christopher Taylor in association with the school children from 6 primary schools in 3 London boroughs. A very successful world premiere of this work took place at the Hackney Empire, a magnificent Frank Matcham Theatre, which is a masterpiece of the Victorian era.
Currently we are now in the process of another similar commission and collaboration with the renowned British composer Errollyn Wallen.
Pegasus has recently been given Flagship status by Sing Up, which is the Government’s Music Manifesto National Singing Programme produced by Youth Music. Its prospectus describes its aim as “to shape the landscape of primary aged singing in England and Wales.” Pegasus Opera is one of the six organisations to be selected as a Flagship Organisation in the UK, with the task of “developing best practice in the provision of singing activity.” Essentially this involves training professional singers to work with primary school teachers in London to give them greater confidence in leading singing activities in their schools.
For the future we, as an organisation, will demonstrate the innate value and creativity that lies within a diverse community who work 'as one' with respect for individuality and equality and who aspire to a common purpose, which is to exalt the power and creativity of the human voice through opera.
In aspiring to realise this vision we will contribute to cultivating an art which serves the community and the world at large and so harnesses the power and value which lies beyond discrimination and stereotyping.
Artistic Director / Founder