World Première of Kit Hesketh Harvey's LA TRAVIATA in February

The Merry Opera Company presents
Translated, adapted and directed by Kit Hesketh-Harvey

In the cultural melting-pot of East London’s galleries, clubs and cafés, burlesque artiste Violetta is the reigning queen, adored by everyone from barristers to baristas. But she’s hiding a fearful secret. When she unexpectedly and unconditionally falls for young City trader Al, neither has any idea where it might lead. Especially since Al harbours a secret too...

Verdi’s La Traviata was first performed in 1853. It has since become immensely popular and is a staple of the standard operatic repertoire. It is second on the Operabase list of the most-performed operas worldwide, behind only The Magic Flute.

This updated version has been placed in the heart of East London’s galleries and burlesque clubs in 2012 with a multi cultural cast who themselves reflect the diversity of London today coming from Ireland, Poland, New Zealand, Sweden, Wales and England. They are talented young singers who have won prizes internationally and whose combined credits include leading roles for Opera Up-Close, Oyster Opera, Garsington Opera, Heritage Opera and Wexford Festival Opera.

Kit Hesketh-Harvey also directs. He is well known for being one half of cabaret duo Kit & The Widow and as a regular panellist on Radio 4’s Just A Minute, but he has been writing, adapting and translating musicals and opera since 1988 when he won the Vivian Ellis Award. His translation of The Bartered Bride for the Royal Opera House was Grammy nominated and his other work includes The Magic Flute and Die Fledermaus for Scottish Opera, The Turk in Italy and La Belle Helene for ENO and The Merry Widow for Opera North. His production of Troy Boy (La Belle Hélène) which he also directed for The Merry Opera Company last year attracted excellent reviews and audience feedback.

Kit is joined by Stephen Hose as Music Director with whom he enjoyed critical success for their production of Troy Boy last year at Upstairs at the Gatehouse and on tour. He is Music Director of OperaUK (tours of Cosi fan Tutte, The Barber of Seville, The Merry Widow, El Amor Brujo) and has worked with The Merry Opera Company on The Messiah (2010 and 2011) and Troy Boy. His productions for Unexpected Opera were Orpheus Down Under and The Barber of Savile Row. TV work has included Musical Director for ITV’s Christmas Glory, featuring stars from opera and pop including Sir James Galway, Charlotte Church, Montserrat Caballe, Robin Gibb and Bryn Terfel, the BBC’s People’s Passion featuring Jessye Norman and Sir Thomas Allen and a Channel 4 documentary, Titanic The Mission. Stephen was also Chorus Master for Jessye Norman’s concerts of Duke Ellington’s Sacred Songs (Barbican Theatre London and Epidavros, Greece).

They are joined by a number of familiar faces from the Troy Boy cast, and the same band – Nicholas Allen (cello), Neil McTaggart (violin), Mark Chivers (viola), Niall Webb (woodwind) and Stephen Hose (piano and accordion).

The Merry Opera Company was founded in Autumn 2010 by Matthew Quirk with the aim of widening the appeal of opera by staging professional shows in modern English that break the framework of tradition and can be appreciated by audiences accustomed to music theatre and pantomime, while staying true to the core of the original. For those who love opera, the shows bring fresh interpretations of classic works. For those new to opera, the shows are understandable, interesting and enjoyable. Its first major tour earlier this year of Troy Boy (Kit Hesketh-Harvey’s adaptation of La Belle Hélène) met with critical success and the current church tour of Handel’s Messiah has been attracting standing ovations. More information can be found on their website at

Director: Kit Hesketh Harvey
Music Director: Stephen Hose
Assistant Director: Preece Killick
Set Design: James Perkins
Costume Design: Fi Russell
Lighting Design: Derek Carlyle
Cast: Robin Bailey (Alfredo), Oliver Brignall (Gaston), Paloma Bruce (ensemble/Violetta cover), Claire Egan (Violetta), Kristin Finnigan (Flora), Marcin Gesla (Baron), Anna Jeruć-Kopeć (Violetta), Marcin Kopeć (Baron), Joe Morgan (Alfredo), Gemma Morsley (Flora), Matthew Quirk (Germont), Stephen John Svanholm (Germont) and Glenn Tweedie (Gaston)

La Traviata plays at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, The Gatehouse Pub, Highgate Village, London N6 4BD from 8 February to 3 March before going on tour. Tickets £12-£16 from

Tour dates confirmed so far:
Wed 8 Feb to Sat 3 Mar Upstairs at the Gatehouse (London)
Wed 7 & Thu 8 Mar Rondo Theatre (Bath)
Sat 10 Mar Memorial Theatre (Broadstairs)
Sat 17 Mar West Road Concert Hall (Cambridge)
Sun 25 Mar Wetherspoon Opera House Pub (Tunbridge Wells)
Thurs 29 Mar The Theatre, (Chipping Norton)
Fri 30 Mar Kenton Theatre (Henley)
Sat 31 Mar The Playhouse (Norwich)
Wed 20, Thu 21 & Fri 22 Jun The Scoop (London)
Sat 23 Jun Wallingford Corn Exchange (Wallingford)
Thu 5 Jul Pentillie Castle (Plymouth)