Since forming in 2013, The Black Cat Opera Company has grown from strength to strength. July 2014 saw our inaugural production, Don Giovanni, at The Electric Theatre, Guildford – where we returned in December 2015, with Così fan Tutte. 2015 was a busy year for the company, with community outreach projects including a sparkling semi-staged production of Bizet’s Carmen in conjunction with Andover Choral Society. This was followed by a hugely successful Gala Evening, which set the stage for our riotous performances of Verdi’s final operatic masterpiece Falstaff, at Camberley Theatre in August.
In 2016, Black Cat was invited to Tallinn, Estonia, to take part in the Birgitta Festival with our acclaimed production of Così fan Tutte, directed by Keiko Sumida. We had the great privilege of working with Estonian scenographer Lilja Blumenfeld and the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by our own musical director, Peter Ford. Other festival performers included the National Opera & Ballet of Belarus, Ekaterinburg State Academic Opera & Ballet Theatre, and the Antonio Andrade Flamenco Company.
Our Black Cat artists have worked with leading companies including The Royal Opera, English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Opera North, and Scottish Opera. They have trained in some of the world’s top universities and conservatoires and are highly skilled and experienced performers.
Peter Ford - Artistic Director and Conductor
Equally at home in a wide range of genres, Peter works as a conductor, coach, and educator throughout the UK. In addition to his work as Artistic Director of The Black Cat Opera Company, he currently holds positions with Andover Choral Society (Hampshire) and Capel Choral Society (Surrey). He also works regularly as an accompanist and music coach for Melofonetica, under the direction of founder and lead coach Matteo Dalle Fratte. Highlights as a pianist have included a recital at the Tíbrá International Festival (Reykjavík), appearing with tenor Ólafur Rúnarsson.
Early conducting studies were undertaken both privately with Colin Howard and at the Canford Summer School, overseen by the late George Hurst. Postgraduate studies at the University of Surrey resulted in an MMus (Conducting) awarded with distinction. While a student he participated in workshops with conductors Martyn Brabbins and George Vass, as well as receiving regular tuition from the university’s Director of Conducting, Russell Keable, with whom he continues to study.
He has extensive experience of conducting in theatrical settings and works regularly with seasoned professionals, amateur performers, and children’s theatre groups. Between 2000 and 2006 he was Musical Director and co-founder of Winterbourne Opera, with whom he conducted numerous productions and concert performances, as well as establishing the chorus. Recent operatic projects with The Black Cat Opera Company include Don Giovanni, Carmen, Falstaff, Così fan Tutte, and La Bohème, as well as The Mikado and Don Giovanni for Rocket Opera/Berwick Festival Opera.
In August 2016 Peter made his international conducting debut at the Birgitta Festival in Tallinn, Estonia, one of the leading music-theatre festivals in Northern Europe. Appearing with The Black Cat Opera Company and Estonian National Symphony Orchestra (ERSO) he was privilaged to conduct the opening night of the festival, dedicated to the memory of its founder and director, maestro Eri Klas.
Julie Aherne - Répétiteur and Company Director
Julie Aherne studied at Royal Holloway, University of London, with James Kirby, and later with Matthew Stanley. She has received additional coaching from eminent musicians including Nicola Eimer, David Owen Norris, The Barbican Trio, and Catherine Manson (London Haydn Quartet). Julie gives regular recitals as a soloist, chamber musician and accompanist, and has performed concertos by Bach, Mozart and Grieg. In May 2017 performed Finzi’s Eclogue for piano and strings with the Westminster Chamber Orchestra.
Julie works regularly with singers in solo, choral, and operatic contexts. She has worked as an accompanist for organisations including Melofonetica, Berwick Festival Opera, Park Opera, and Winterbourne Opera, and currently holds rehearsal pianist positions with Andover Choral Society and Genesis Chorale.
In 2013 Julie co-founded The Black Cat Opera Company, of which she is Company Director and Répétiteur. With Black Cat Opera she has worked on productions of Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte, Carmen, Falstaff, and La Bohème, as well as gala evenings and high-profile corporate engagements at prestigious venues including The Royal Aeronautical Society at 4 Hamilton Place, and the Millennium Gloucester Hotel.
In August 2016 the company was invited to take their production of Così fan tutte to the Birgitta Festival, Tallinn, for which Julie played harpsichord continuo alongside the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra.
Phillip Guy-Bromley - Associate Director
Phillip Guy Bromley, baritone, is an experienced opera, oratorio and recital singer who has performed in Europe and in the USA as well as at home. He was born and educated in Shropshire where his first singing teacher was Robert Williams, and later studied at the Birmingham School of Music where he won all the major prizes, including the first Mario Lanza Prize.
After the BSM Phillip immediately joined Glyndebourne Festival Opera where his roles included Sprecher in The Magic Flute and Don Fernando in Fidelio. Through Glyndebourne's exchange programme with Houston Opera he played Guglielmo (Così fan Tutte) and The Father (Hansel and Gretel).
At Welsh National Opera Phillip created the role of The Old Man in the world premiere of John Metcalfe’s The Journey and sang Morales (Carmen), Masetto (Don Giovanni), Matthieu (Andrea Chenier) and Christian (Un Ballo in Maschera). For Opera North he sang Tchelio (Love for Three Oranges).
For English National Opera Phillip sang Ortel (Die Meistersinger), Sailing Master Flint (Billy Budd) which was televised and released on video, Leporello (Don Giovanni), Levis (Doctor Faustus), and Fafarello (Love for Three Oranges).
Roles sung for various touring companies include Don Alfonso (Così fan Tutte), the title role in Don Pasquale, Dr Bartolo (Barber of Seville), Dr Dulcamara (L'Elisir d’Amore), Sharpless (Madame Butterfly), Alidoro (La Cenerentola), Mustafa (Italian Girl in Algiers), Sacristan (Tosca) and the title role in Rigoletto.
Keiko Sumida - Associate Director
Keiko graduated from Rose Bruford College specialising in Physical Theatre. She has worked on theatre productions, operas, films, TV commercials and events. She has worked as Director for a sold-out production of Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti (Brunel Museum Shaft, 2015), and for Black Cat Opera on their 2015 production of Così fan tutte, including its revival performance at the Birgitta Festival, Tallinn in August 2016.
As an Assistant Director her opera credits include: Tosca for New London Opera Players (dir. Sophie Gilpin), Neige for Luxembourg Grand Theatre (dir. Catherine Kontz), Suor Angelica for Talent Unlimited (dir. Aylin Bozok), Container for ENO/Lylian Baylis Studio (dir. Martin Constantine), Orpheo ed Euridice for The Rose Playhouse (dir. Pamela Schermann), Werther for Grimeborn Festival (dir. Aylin Bozok), Daphne for The Reform Club (dir. Jose Gandia), The Rake’s Progress for Bury Court Opera (dir. Aylin Bozok), and Lakme for Opera Holland Park (dir. Aylin Bozok).