Backseat Stories will appear at Notgrove

Oxford’s All Aboard Opera! is touring its operatic tales ‘Backseat Stories‘ around some stunning outdoor locations this summer.

“It’s outdoor opera with a twist, to create a unique evening where you’ll laugh, cry, and celebrate the incredible power of storytelling,” founder Katie Blackwell explains.

‘Opera sometimes has a reputation for being complicated and difficult to understand, but it’s simply stories set to music’

“We want to show that opera doesn’t have to be in a theatre, or something you need to sit quietly through. Opera can also be performed out of the back of a car, in a field, vegetable garden, or park, and can be something that you enjoy while having a picnic with your friends and family on a warm summer’s evening,” she adds.

Thus ‘Backseat Stories’ operas are set within a new play, “We were inspired by Shakespeare companies performing outdoors and thought, why not do that with opera? So this is opera with no frills or fuss.”

Based around five friends who are lost on a road trip and decide to pass the time by telling stories, thus a quartet of short operas will be presented.

“Our entire production is based around a battered Ford Fiesta that our characters use as both backdrop and dressing up box for their storytelling. The four operas encompass a whole range of genres; comedy, tragedy, romance and farce – and one isn’t even technically an opera!” Katie adds.

Holmby House

So why this new format? “Opera sometimes has a reputation for being complicated and difficult to understand, but at its heart it’s simply stories set to music – and that’s something that humans have been creating for as long as we’ve been capable of dreams.”

Expect Mozart’s ‘The ImpresarioHolst’s ‘Sāvitri’, Lehmann’s ‘The Happy Prince’ and Sullivan’s ‘The Zoo’, as the travelling troupe present this collection of operatic tales, all performed in a variety of beautiful outdoor venues.

“We are passionate about representing lesser-performed works and are only the second company to perform ‘The Happy Prince’ by Liza Lehmann in the UK since it premiered in 1908,” Katie adds.

All Aboard Opera

“There are also some forgotten gems by far more well-known composers; before Arthur Sullivan was half of the beloved G&S, he wrote a hilarious operetta set in London Zoo which we are thrilled to be bringing to life! There’s truly something for everyone in the ‘Backseat Stories’ collection,” she promises.

From a manor estate to a vegetable garden, all are pertinent to the music, and audiences are encouraged to bring picnics, friends and families, and make a night of it.

Directed by Katie Blackwell and conducted by Joseph Cummings, the stellar cast features: Lizzie Nicholson, Emily Sloan, Damien Noyce, and Adam Brown

Understandably, tickets are selling fast with Blue Tin Farm, Ipsden on Friday 4 August already sold out. Which leaves Holmby House in Sibford on Wednesday August 2, Notgrove Manor, near Cheltenham on Thursday August 3 and Mill Meadows in Henley on Saturday August 5. For info and tickets, go to