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The young British conductor Nicholas Chalmers is establishing a formidable reputation in the opera world as a champion of emerging talent and a passionate advocate for the future of the art form. His latest venture at Nevill Holt promises to add to his growing hit-rate of operatic success stories. Interview by Robert Thicknesse

Being involved in the birth of one successful company is not bad; three is even better. The 39-year-old conductor Nicholas Chalmers, aside from his success as the first (and so far only) artistic director at Nevill Holt Opera, has been instrumental in taking Northern Ireland Opera from a standing start to its highly respected place among the UK’s national companies, and before that, with his long-term artistic collaborator Oliver Mears, he founded Second Movement, an innovative little company that is still going strong.

All these companies (and indeed his other role as music director of St Jude-on-the-Hill in north London, where inter alia he tutors three organ scholars from Henrietta Barnett School) are based on a strong commitment to encouraging young talent, which is absolutely tied up with Chalmers’ vocation as a full-time conductor and a cornerstone of the founding principles behind Nevill Holt Opera. His early career took him to Westminster Abbey where he was director of music at the Choir School; he went on to be assistant chorus master at ENO. ‘It’s an idealistic thing more than political,’ he says. ‘If music and opera are to have a proper future and not fade into irrelevance, people like me need to do something about it. For me the rewards of being at the forefront of providing opportunities for young musicians are immense.’

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About Opera Now

Christophe Rousset celebrates a quarter century at the forefront of the Early Music scene with Les Talens Lyriques; Sir John Eliot Gardiner takes Monteverdi’s three surviving operas on tour around the world; and our guide to the brightest and best opera festivals of 2017. Plus, remembering the velvet voice of Swedish tenor Nicolai Gedda; individuality and imagination in the songs of Arthur Sullivan; Debussy’s ravishing Pelléas lets down its hair at Garsington; American baritone Scott Hendricks shares his love of playing bad boys; the art of the librettist; British conductor Nicholas Chalmers; and an 80th birthday tribute to Grace Bumbry.