These lectures are normally presented to members of The Arts Society and are fully illustrated with audio and visual materials.  Nearly all of them expand naturally into Study Days.

         TANTRUMS & TIARAS        

Nigel takes a look at the life backstage at London's Royal Opera House Covent Garden and the tribulations and triumphs of working with the Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet companies.   Simply putting on the performances is not enough - there has to be encouragement for the audience to spend quite large amounts of money to attend a performance.  We look at the way artistic inspirations, the people involved and the unique building all function together to create world-class opera and ballet in a unique environment.  


Primarily an exploration of the music chosen by ballet choreographers through the years, proving that the right piece with the right moves and the right designs can create modern masterpieces and timeless classics.  We transition through the grandness of Imperial Russia with Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty into the current modern repertoire of the Royal Ballet.

        THEY MAKE NO NOISE       

What is it that conductors do that makes orchestras respond in so many different ways?  Is it a good baton technique?  A strong personality?  The way they look?  And why are there so few women found on the podium?  Drawing on history and his own experiences from over 6000 performances and recordings, Nigel seeks out some answers.  This lecture contains some very rare video footage of conductors in rehearsal and performance.

        PERCUSSION USE & ABUSE          

From calling ancient armies to battle to signalling the audience to stand for the National Anthem, drums and percussion have been a part of history well over and above their musical contributions.  Often the icing on the cake and alas sometimes the bottom of the dustbin, Nigel explores how the design, sound and awareness of percussion instruments and the demands of modern composers have developed almost out of all recognition in the last hundred years.  This lecture contains rare video footage from the orchestra pit at the Royal Opera House. 


The Nutcracker has delighted audiences at Christmas for many decades yet it was deemed a failure at its first performances.  We take a close look at how this well-loved ballet now takes its rightful place on stage and how the music of Tchaikovsky along with story-telling, design and dance all come together to make the most magical escape for young and old alike.

       The ROYAL OPERA HOUSE Covent Garden - an inside view      

STUDY DAY (two or three sessions)

An expanded version of Tantrums & Tiaras, with in-depth looks at the history and architecture of the building.  In addition we discover the way that daily performances and rehearsals of opera and ballet and much else besides all fit into this elegant Victorian theatre – the flagship of the British arts world and the workplace of more than a thousand people.  Includes several performance video clips and additional focus on costume and set design, production values and how the digital age has been embraced by the opera and ballet worlds.