our 100th Gala Performance

Saturday 24 September 2022

  • The Bampton Classical Players conducted by Julian Perkins

    The Bampton Classical Players conducted by Julian Perkins

  • Breinton's 100th Gala Performance

    Breinton's 100th Gala Performance

  • Fileno (Emma Stannard) and Clori (Susanna Fairbairn)

    Fileno (Emma Stannard) and Clori (Susanna Fairbairn)

  • Clori (Susanna Fairbairn) and Tirsi (Caroline Taylor)

    Clori (Susanna Fairbairn) and Tirsi (Caroline Taylor)

  • Clori (Susanna Fairbairn), Fileno (Emma Stannard) and Tirsi (Caroline Taylor)

    Clori (Susanna Fairbairn), Fileno (Emma Stannard) and Tirsi (Caroline Taylor)

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Photographs courtesy of David Hogg of Horizon Imaging.


With intermittent sunny spells and blue skies, a gentle breeze, and high spirits and smiles which never left us, Breinton's 100th Gala was the most joyful celebratory occasion in every aspect.  Handel's romantic comedy Clori, Tirsi e Fileno was light-hearted, funny and charming throughout, while the three singers (Suzanne Fairbairn, Caroline Taylor and Emma Stannard) poured their hearts out with one recesitivo and aria after another, full of poetry and beauty.  Despite each singer having different vocal strengths and colours, they united gorgeously in duos and trios. 

The singers, in a tailoured costume, were fantastic actors as well, providing the audience with a pleasant visual experience.  From an impactful overture, to serene aria, to fiery duet, the period instrument ensemble Bampton Classical Players accompanied and complimented the singers in a most effective manner.  The harpsichord, form which Julian Perkins was conducting the ensemble, was a pivotal figure and acted as a smooth lubricant which bound the pieces together and let the story flow gently.

An Arcadian pastoral comedy

  • Clori - Susanna Fairbairn
  • Tirsi - Caroline Taylor
  • Fileno - Emma Stannard

Accompanied by the Bampton Classical Players on period instruments:

  • Violin - Naomi Burrell & Karin Björk
  • Viola - Emma Alter
  • Cello - Hettie Price
  • Double bass - Peter McCarthy
  • Oboe / Recorder - Gail Hennessy & Andrés Villalobos
  • Theorbo / Guitar - Jonatan Bougt
  • Harpsichord - Julian Perkins
  • Music Director - Julian Perkins
  • Director - Jeremy Gray
Bampton Classical Opera

Bampton Classical Opera was founded in 1993 by its artistic directors, Gilly French and Jeremy Gray.  Their well-established national reputation is founded on a policy of breathing new life into little-known works of the classical period, in lively and accessible productions of exceptional musical standards, with some of the best of the country’s young singers.  The staged operas are always sung in English, often in their own lively new translations.

"Britain’s unchallenged champion of 18th-century opera.  Witty, smart, fast-moving and admirably spiritedly sung by a vocally-satisfying cast, a laudably intelligent, sharp-witted team who were both vocally polished and dramatically rewarding" – Opera Now

"giddily exciting, propelled by wit, charm, and bags of joy" – The Spectator

"This delightful evening… conducted with panache, and a young cast was vigorous and fresh throughout" – The Daily Telegraph

"As delightful and diversely entertaining as eighteenth-century opera, in its more modest guise, was always intended to be" – Times Literary Supplement

"The epitome of opera in a garden" – The Times

"Beautifully sung and superbly acted, moving, funny and vivacious" – Audience member

Samantha Louis-JeanJulian Perkins, conductor

Julian Perkins is Artistic Director of Cambridge Handel Opera and Sounds Baroque. He has performed regularly at the Salzburg Festival, Edinburgh International Festival and BBC Proms, directed the Academy of Ancient Music and featured as soloist in concertos with the Royal Northern Sinfonia, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, The Sixteen and Florilegium.

He has conducted staged opera productions for the Buxton International Festival, Cambridge Handel Opera, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Kings Place, Netherlands Opera Academy, New Chamber Opera, New Kent Opera and Snape Maltings, appeared as solo harpsichordist at the Royal Opera House and Welsh National Opera, and performed as a soloist at London’s Wigmore Hall, New York’s Lincoln Center and Sydney Opera House. Shortlisted for the 2021 Gramophone Award for his recording of Eccles’ Semele, Julian's conducting and playing has been praised for its 'demonic intensity' (BBC Music Magazine – Recording of the Month), 'fluid and natural pacing' (Gramophone – Editor's Choice) and 'verve and suavity' (Classical Music).

Full biography

Susanna Fairbairn

Susanna Fairbairn is increasingly in demand for operatic and solo work nationally and internationally. Recent engagements include the role of Donna Elvira/Don Giovanni for Diva Opera (touring UK, France and Jersey), Bess Foster/Georgiana for Buxton International Opera Festival, and her Deutsche Oper Berlin début as Agathe in the world première of a new opera entitled Wolfsschlucht at the Tischlerei. Recent concert highlights have included Verdi’s Requiem in Coventry Cathedral for Remembrance Day, appearances as soloist with the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Three Choirs Festival in Handel’s Israel in Egypt, Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem at Middle Temple Hall, and Carmina Burana in St. John’s, Smith Square.

Susanna gained an MA with Distinction from the Wales International Academy of Voice, previously studying voice at Trinity College of Music and flute as an undergraduate at Magdalen College, Oxford.

Full biography

Samantha Louis-Jean

Emma Stannard trained at the Royal Northern College of Music and with Royal Academy Opera.  This summer, Emma has performed the role of Olga Eugene Onegin (Opera Holland Park) and has sung as the alto soloist in the Mozart Requiem (Really Big Chorus).

Further operatic experience includes Idamante Idomeneo and Enrico Elisabetta (English Touring Opera); Flora La traviata (Opera Holland Park YAP); Minerva Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria and Pepa Goyescas (The Grange Festival); Mother Amahl and the Night Visitors (Bampton Classical Opera) and Selene Berenice (La Nuova Musica).

Emma has won the Bampton Classical Opera Competition, the Elizabeth Harwood Memorial Award and was awarded the Audrey Strange Memorial Award at the final of the Royal Overseas League vocal competition. She was also a 2018/19 Handel House Talent Scheme Young Artist.

Full biography

Caroline Taylor, Tirisi

Caroline Taylor graduated with Distinction from the Royal Northern College of Music. She won the 2021 Emmy Destinn Young Singers Award, the 2019 Dean and Chadlington Singing Competition and the 2018 Joyce and Michael Kennedy Strauss Award.

A former Longborough Festival Opera Emerging Artist, Caroline’s opera credits include Kate and cover Elsie Maynard/The Yeomen of the Guard (Grange Festival), Asteria/Tamerlano (Cambridge Handel Opera Company), Adina/The Elixir of Love (Duchy Opera), Chocholka and cover Vixen Sharp-Ears/The Cunning Little Vixen (Longborough) and Governess/The Turn of the Screw (Byre Opera). Concert highlights include Fauré’s Requiem (Manchester Camerata) and Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 at the Bridgewater Hall. This season, Caroline is a Young Artist with Oxford Lieder. She makes her debut at the Wigmore Hall as part of the French Song Exchange and performs the title role in Příhody lišky Bystroušky with Hampstead Garden Opera. 

Full biography