La Favorite

La Favorite


In their 65th anniversary year UCOpera is continuing its popular tradition of staging rarely performed operas with its production of La Favorite, one of the most successful operas of the 19th century and among the first to be captured on gramophone record. Performing for the first time at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, the superb cast and orchestra, composed of both professional singers and members of the student body, will be led by musical director Charles Peebles.

Set in 1930s Spain, La Favorite tells the tale of Fernand who abandons monastic life on falling in love with Léonor. However, it is only after their wedding that he discovers that she was once the mistress or ‘la favorite’ of King Alphonse of Castille who, forbidden by the Pope to divorce his wife, had agreed to release her to marry as a prize for Fernand’s recent military victories. What will happen to the newlyweds now Léonor’s shameful secret has been uncovered?

The Company

John Ramster - Director

Producer, writer and a leading teacher of drama specifically for opera singers, John Ramster returns for the third time to direct for UCOpera. Ramster has written and directed many operas which include the jukebox opera Kiss Me, Figaro!, nominated for Best Production in the Off-West-End Awards, as well as The Barber of Seville. He has directed various shows for the Royal Academy Opera, notably Hänsel und Gretel and Eugene Onegin. Ramster’s writing includes the novel Ladies’ Man (published in seven foreign editions) and screenwriting work on television serial dramas and comedies.


Charles Peebles - Conductor

The orchestra will be under the baton of award winning conductor Charles Peebles. Peebles has conducted many distinguished orchestras and ensembles including the BBC Singers, London Mozart Players and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. His repertoire also features numerous operas, including a critically acclaimed series of Rossini opera productions for Garsington Opera ‘it was Charles Peebles’ conducting that gave the evening its irresistible impetus’ (Richard Osbourne), Mozart’s Don Giovanni for Bavarian State Opera and a hugely successful production of Cilea’s L’arlesiana with Holland Park Opera and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. La Favorite will be Peebles’ fourteenth production with UCOpera.


The Cast 

The student cast will be joined by four exciting new professional talents.

The role of Fernand will be sung by Australian born tenor David Woodward who has recently moved to the UK having sung with Garsington Opera, Opera Australia and the ENO.

Singing opposite in the role of Léonor will be the mezzo-soprano Catherine Backhouse. A graduate of the prestigious Opera Studies and Artist Diploma programmes at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Catherine’s 2015 programme included performances for both Garsington Opera and Opera North.

The role of Balthazar will be sun by Baritone Tristan Hambleton. Hambleton, who is a recent graduate of the RAM Opera School, is currently singing with Glyndebourne Opera. 

American baritone Kevin Greenlaw makes his return to UCOpera in the role of King Alphonse. Greenlaw has sung on many international stages including with the Metropolitan Opera, the Opera National de Paris and has played Escamillo in Carmen at both London’s O2 arena and the Royal Albert Hall. 

Ticket Prices

Full Price £25

Concessions* £17

UCL Students & Staff* £9


*Please note if you are booking for any concessions/discounted tickets, you will need to show relevant ID when collecting your tickets. Concessions are available for children, the disabled and assistants, equity card holders, full time students, seniors and unemployed. £9 tickets are available for UCL Staff and students. 


Please send any press enquires to Lizzie Thomas. Email here


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