Opera house opens in pub

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King's Head in London to put on Rossini

A North London pub is the unlikely home for the capital's newest opera house.

The Little Opera House hopes to attract a new generation of audiences by offering an intimate alternative to the grandeur of London's two main opera venues.

The King's Head in Islington, which has been a pub-theatre since 1970, will now be turning to opera under its new artistic director, Australian singer-turned-director Adam Spreadbury-Maher. It'll be London's first new opera house for 40 years. He hopes the venue will add another dimension to London's opera scene, giving young professional singers the chance to appear in leading roles, and enticing in new audiences by creating an unintimidating, down-to-earth atmosphere. Dress will be informal and top ticket prices will be just £15.

Patrons include actress Joanna Lumley, playwright Tom Stoppard and director Jonathan Miller. 'In doing operas on a very intimate scale, in front of an audience of a hundred at the most, you renovate them,' says Miller in The Observer. 'I like it when you can put opera in a setting where it is not all about people luxuriating in displays of their wealth.'

The new season at the Little Opera House starts on 6 October, with Rossini's The Barber of Seville, and includes Puccini's Madam Butterfly and new works by Philip Glass.

Cara Laskaris