Collaboration Boost For Chamber Opera Trilogy

Guest House Opera has announced an exciting new collaboration with independent producer Jonny Danciger, which will feature a new production of Christopher Wood’s chamber opera trilogy No Way Out! as part of Jonny’s inaugural project.

The sequential three stories, featuring three soloists, will be performed as part of Opera Studio – two days of innovative opera works – to be presented at the OSO Arts Centre, Barnes, west London, on 23 and 24 September 2022.

Christopher is eagerly looking forward to working with Jonny. ‘I feel that we are working with someone who really understands the power of contemporary opera in today’s world,’ he says. ‘The future of the art form is safe in his hands.

I am also really pleased to be working with two talented young singers new to us: soprano Holly Teague and tenor Harry Grigg, as well as GHO co-founder, baritone Paddy Cockshutt.’

Jonny devised the event while still artistic director of the OSO. He has now moved on and is looking forward to a challenging new career as a producer/director of innovative and new operatic works. His own realization of Jonathan Dove’s Songs of Ariel combines Dove’s music with a new live soundscape.

Also featuring in Jonny’s Opera Studio are the classic La Voix Humaine by Francis Poulenc and An Evening with Sofia Kirwan-Baez, Barnes’ beloved soprano and star of the OSO Piano Lounge series.

Opera Studio, OSO Arts Centre, Station Road, Barnes, September 23 and 24. Friday: No Way Out! 6pm; Sofia Kirwan-Baez 8pm; Saturday Ariel 3pm; La Voix Humaine 4.30pm and No Way Out! 8pm. For tickets visit or ring 020 8876 9885.

Kiwi Harry At Home With Chamber Opera

Director Jonny Danciger and GHO composer Christopher Wood have chosen New Zealand-born tenor Harry Grigg to sing the role of Reynard in the forthcoming new production of the chamber opera No Way Out! at the OSO Arts Centre, in Barnes.

Harry has expressed his excitement at the challenge of a new role in a new work: Chamber opera is such a unique challenge and delight as it offers such an intimate look at its subject matter and No Way Out! is the perfect example of this. I can’t wait to explore Chris’s wonderful opera and to collaborate with Jonny and the team at Oso Arts Centre and Guest House Opera to create a truly special show.

Harry has just finished his Master of Performance degree as the Kiri te Kanawa Scholar at the Royal College of Music. Prior to his studies in London he was a DMMF Studio Artist with New Zealand Opera. Recent roles have included Amour (Castor et Pollux), Monostatos Die Zauberflöte) and Scarramuccio (Adriadne auf Naxos).

Shropshire Lass Holly  Singing Tragic Hilde

Shropshire-born soprano Holly Teague renews a successful partnership with producer Jonny Danciger when she sings in the Opera Studio – a two-day celebration of innovative chamber works – at the OSO Arts Centre, Barnes, west London, on 23 and 24 September.

Jonny has invited her to sing the role of Hilde in No Way Out! – a sequential trilogy of one-act operas, exploring the self that we all find ourselves locked in to. The work, written by Christopher Wood, is inspired by Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit, colliding three fundamentally incompatible, emotionally-flawed individuals, with tragic results.

Holly has previously worked with independent producer/director Jonny on opera projects in Oxford and with Cumbria Festival Opera. For No Way Out! She teams up for the first time with Sutton-based Guest House Opera’s Paddy Cockshutt and acclaimed young Kiwi tenor Harry Grigg.

Since leaving the Royal College of Music with an MPerf degree Holly has been singing opera, sacred music, early music and chamber works the length and breadth of the country. Recently she recorded Shropshire Lass – an album of Mary Webb poems for voice and guitar, set by composer Martin Bussey.

Fallen Soldier By Maggie Cooper Goes Live On YouTube

A video version of Sutton-based soprano Maggie Cooper’s song Close his Eyes, written for her by Christopher Wood last year, has gone public on YouTube.

The song is an addition to his A Great War Oratorio, premiered by the Carshalton Choral Society in November 2015.

Set on a World War One battlefield, Maggie Cooper implores a soldier to close the eyes of a comrade just fallen in battle, while musing on the horrors of war and death.

‘Close his eyes is a great piece to perform and works well as a stand-alone piece,’ says Maggie.

‘It is hard to imagine the atrocities of trench warfare and I find this piece very sensitive and moving.

The text and vocal line are satisfying to sing and it has been a great process to work with the composer; there is quite a lot of detail in the score and Chris was specific about the sound and phrasing he envisaged.’

Chris added: ‘Maggie is always a joy to work with and has the technique to deliver the most demanding of vocal lines. It has also been a privilege to work with Beth Turner on the making of the video.

This talented young filmmaker has produced a powerful piece to remind us of the futility of war and we will be working with her again.’

Guest House Opera extends its thanks to the Vicar of Christ Church, Sutton the Rev Phil Brookes for his co-operation in making this film.

Maggie Cooper has also recorded a revised version of My son Jack, another song from the oratorio, complete with the contribution made by the Carshalton Choral Society. Hear sound samples on the GHO Music page and on SoundCloud.

Production Team Plan For Chains!

Author/composer of Chains! Chris Wood feels he has taken the show as far as he can go with it, on his own.

He now wants to bring together a core professional production team – experienced individuals who, after reading the script and listening to the music of chains, a fusion between classical and rock opera, will feel a genuine commitment to taking the work forward.


guest house opera - mcooperIn return, the composer is offering them an open-ended profit-share from any/all professional staged productions.

In the first instance the show needs: a stage director, a music director, a choreographer and a crowd fund raiser to prepare a production campaign to bring the show to the stage.

Alternatively, a producer or production company is invited to consider the whole project, with a view to appointing his/her own team.

The profit-share still applies. ‘I have built up a solid structure to base the show on,’ says Chris. ‘However, I have too much material and it needs a clear, detached approach to editing it and making it West End friendly.’ All enquiries to Chris Wood at Guest House Opera.

War Oratorio Challenges Britten

The Carshalton Choral Society premiered Chris Wood’s A Great War Oratorio on 21 November 2015, at All Saints Church, Carshalton.

Locally-based Maggie Cooper took the solo soprano role and the orchestra comprised both professional musicians and young players from the Sutton Music Service.

All were under the baton of CCS conductor Philip Collin. Chris’s music was interspersed with readings and poetry chosen by Will Harris and a historical narrative written by Dick Bower.

The music drew critical acclaim, Rector Dr John Thewlis describing it as ‘most moving’ and ‘better than the Britten,’ making reference to the latter’s War Requiem.

New Look GHO Gives Imagine Festival Concert

New look GHO gives Imagine Festival concert

Guest House Opera debuted four singers new to its ranks when a septet of vocalists step out to sing Songs from the Cycle of Life at All Saints Church, by Carshalton Ponds, on Saturday 1 November.

guest house opera - mcooper


The new faces are local soprano Maggie Cooper, Reigate mezzo Carolyn Burnley, Ewell baritone Spiro Fernando and north London-based tenor Rhys Bowden.

They join GHO favourites Akiko Enomoto (mezzo), tenor Paddy Cockshutt and bass-baritone Timothy Tomkins, singing Songs from the Cycle of Life, solo and in various-sized ensembles and in a number of music styles from classical to contemporary music theatre; the accompanist was Jo Cockshutt.

Guest House Opera, liaising with the Sutton Music Festival for the first time, also gave two outstanding young instrumentalists from last year’s festival – cellist Joe Mackley and saxophonist Daniel Brandon – an added local platform, early in their career.

Sea Music Premiered In Packed Church Venue

Guest House Opera’s vocal quartet gave a polished premiere performance of Chris Wood’s five Sea Songs at All Saints Church, Carshalton, on 5 October as part of the 2013 Imagine Festival of the Arts, funded by Sutton Council.

A packed church also enjoyed a performance of Shadow Ships by Play of Light Theatre and more sea songs – this time three songs from Lieutenant Cockatoo, a cycle by Phyllis Tate, sung by ten and 11 year old children from nearby Stanley Park Junior School.

Chris also premiered a recorded version of Sea Changes, a descriptive piece of orchestral ballet music, and Waiting, a cool jazz instrumental, to which dancer Sharon Coe was choreographed by Malti Patel of Croydon-based Apsaras Arts. Chris is pictured with Karin Andrews Jashapara, artistic Director of Play of Light Theatre.

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Guest House Opera featured in a lavish musical presentation for South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, when he visited Fairfield Halls, Croydon for a Conversation for Change, in October.

GHO premiered I have a dream, a piece composed and conducted by GHO’s in-house composer, Chris Wood.

The GHO voices were augmented by students from Wallington High School for Girls and the string orchestra included players from Wallington Girls and Sutton Youth Symphony Orchestra. GHO was also joined by special guests the Gary Mason Charity Drummers.

‘The archbishop told me how much he enjoyed our music,’ said Chris.

‘We were delighted to perform before the archbishop and his daughter and to help spread the word about his philosophy of ubuntu.’

GHO Welcomes Soprano Frances Denney

Guest House Opera is pleased to announce that young soprano, Frances Denney is joining the group’s vocal quartet.

Frances, 21, will help premiere in-house composer Christopher Wood’s new set of sea songs in the 2013 Imagine Festival of the Arts in All Saints Church, Carshalton, on Saturday 5 October.

Originally from Oakham in Rutland, Frances has been part of the Stamford Shakespeare Company – an open air theatre company in Lincolnshire – and has attended RADA summer schools for contemporary text. Frances is well versed in music theatre, having been part of Youth Music Theatre UK and often performs music theatre songs in her solo repertoire. ‘I’d love to end up in serious opera in fifteen years’ time and more recently my training has focused on working my way through appropriate opera pieces for my age,’ she says. ‘So, Mozart and Handel so far – I’m waiting eagerly to do the big romantic stuff!’