All lectures are fully illustrated with audio and visual materials and can readily be tailored to suit specific requirements if desired.  

         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 lectures below given by special arrangement:


Why is world class opera so expensive?  Why does the Royal Ballet tend to perform on public holidays? Nigel looks at the business side of the art, and how it all has to fit together before a step can be danced or a note played or sung.


The world premiere of The Tempest by Thomas Ades was given in London in on the 10th February 2004. It was actually completed just that afternoon, and we follow the mounting tension as opening night approaches without a complete score. 

       FINDING THE FONICA        

In the whole of music, the instrument known as the Fonica plays for just four bars in Puccini'sFanciulla del West [Girl of the Golden West], and in the whole of the known world there are just two of them.  The London Fonica was lost for many decades and Nigel takes us through the detective work surrounding the initial journey, history and rediscovery of this unique instrument.