‘It really was a unique opportunity’


To thank our Lighthouse Friends we provide a number of exclusive events each year that give an insight to what happens backstage at Lighthouse with some of the famous companies, artists and productions that grace our stages.

We recently had two special opportunities for Friends to join us with two of the country’s most renowned companies, English Touring Opera and Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Lighthouse Fundraising Executive, Jonathan Smith tells us more…

The first event was a fascinating question and answer discussion with English Touring Opera. We were so privileged to have Michael Papadopoulos (Conductor) David Horton (Singer), Sami Wood (Company Stage Manager) and Elora Ledger (Philanthropy Manager) talking about all that they do to bring some of the world’s most famous operas to our audiences. 


The reason English Touring Opera exist is to provide people all around the UK the chance to experience highest quality opera. That doesn’t mean it’s without challenges though. Life on tour can be tough, travelling between locations, and not returning home for months on end. It’s important to find a welcoming venue, and good theatre digs to stay in, which can be vital to the rest and preparation they need between performances.  

David emphasised the enjoyment of new experiences in places they visit, seeing why people live where they do. They said it’s been a pleasure to explore Poole and the area, to swim in the sea, find local coffee shops to relax in and walks to explore. Which, of cours,e we all know well living here! 


Touring means the company has to adapt the shows for different venues; the set, the sound, the orchestra, the singing, everything has to be changed in small or big ways and transported by large lorries between locations. Lighthouse is one of their regular venues, with the acoustics and stage making such a difference. There are not many venues that can do opera well in their spaces. This has been a much more intense tour for them too, working from 10am till after the evening show, performing three different operas, sometimes four shows a day, with The Great Stink in the mornings for kids.  

It’s been so rewarding for them bringing The Great Stink to young audiences, seeing how the kids get involved, shouting out, singing along, often the first time they’ve ever heard opera. Seeing adults singing so loudly and boldly up close in front of them, frees the children to feel they have the permission to sing out loud, to tap into that creativity that they might not usually get to.  

I know I certainly felt that same impulse watching The Great Stink. We were all privileged at the event too to tap into the creativity of ETO. 

The following Saturday we were excited to have the unique watch-along of the Class warm-up with Birmingham Royal Ballet.  

I hadn’t known what to expect and wondered what stretching would be like to watch for an hour and a half before the show. I needn’t have worried, what an experience it was!  

Watching the dancers go through the process, starting so meditatively and calmly moving to the bluesy classics on the piano and then gradually progressing to the larger, more dynamic movements, jumps and pirouettes. I found the warm-up routine itself moving and transporting let alone the show!  

It was really insightful to hear from Caroline Miller OBE, CEO of BRB, too the terms the warm-up leader used, the gestures and how the warm-ups work, with different dancers doing different stretches and the different groups of dancers within the company taking it in turn to cycle through the movements. It really was a unique opportunity and sharing of time with such a renowned company before their show. 

:: To fid out more about Lighthouse Friends please visit Become a Friend – Lighthouse (lighthousepoole.co.uk).