Opera theatre plan at Carphone Warehouse founder's estate

Nevill Holt Opera Image copyright Witherford Watson Mann
Image caption The new opera theatre will increase seating capacity at Nevill Holt Opera to 400

Carphone Warehouse founder David Ross is bidding to build the first permanent opera house in England in just over a decade.

Mr Ross wants to transform the listed stables at his stately home in Leicestershire into a 400-seat opera theatre.

If approved, construction will start at the Nevill Holt Opera in late 2016.

Mr Ross's goal is to replace the current temporary seating with "a perfect venue" for young opera stars.

The current structure, near Market Harborough, can seat up to 350 but is "inadequate and beyond effective economic repair," Nevill Holt Opera general manager Rosenna East said.

Operas have been staged at Mr Ross's home since 2013, but a temporary structure has been used by touring companies for a decade.

Image copyright Witherford Watson Mann
Image caption The hall design includes the original walls of the stable block
Image copyright Nevill Holt Opera
Image caption The home of entrepreneur David Ross has hosted a summer opera festival for a decade

Mr Ross wants to expand the summer opera festival and run community and education programmes at the new opera theatre during the rest of the year.

Mrs East said: "It would be a game changer for us at NHO and bring something really special for the region.

"It is a 17th Century stable block which is Grade Two listed and we want to turn it into a beautiful state-of-the-art auditorium for opera."

'Nurturing stars'

She said the walls of the stable block are "a beautiful golden colour and they are not going anywhere".

The current structure is not suitable for winter as it is "too cold" so the permanent theatre will allow events on a year-round basis, she said.

"We believe in nurturing young opera stars and this will be a perfect venue for them."

Dating back to the 13th Century, the Nevill Holt estate became home to the opera in 2000.

Mr Ross, who will support the project through his David Ross Foundation, also has a large private collection of modern British sculpture at the hall.

Image copyright Nevill Holt Opera
Image caption Mr Ross also has a large collection of modern sculpture at his home in Leicestershire

Opera England

Image copyright Nevill Holt Opera
Image caption Nevill Holt Opera's 2016 performances of Verdi's Rigoletto were all sold out
  • London is in the top five in the world for the number of operas per year (490) behind Moscow, Vienna, Berlin and St Petersburg
  • England ranks 7th in the world in the total number of operas performed - there were more than 1,000 in 2014-15
  • Most popular operas in England: Verdi's La Traviata (66 performances) followed by Puccini's Boheme (60 performances) and Carmen (34 performances) in 2014-15
  • Productions at Nevill Holt in 2016 included Carmen, Verdi's Rigoletto and Donizetti's The Elixir of Love
  • Nevill Holt is one of five major opera venues outside a major city in England - the others are Buxton, Grange Park, Garsington and Glyndebourne

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