Pimlico Opera

Pimlico Opera is an opera company and registered charity founded in 1987 by Wasfi Kani.[1][2]

The company aims to use participation in opera to advance personal development – particularly with younger people and to engender a sense of community.[3][4][5]

The most recent production from Pimlico Opera was Sweet Charity staged in HMP Bronzefield in November 2018. Olivier award-nominated actress Laura Pitt-Pulford[6] played the leading role of Charity Hope Valentine.[7]


Though its focus today is solely in prisons and primary schools, Pimlico Opera was known for 19 years (1990-2008) as an Arts Council-funded small-scale touring company.[citation needed] In those years, repertoire included the Da Ponte trilogy, Cenerentola, Falstaff, Pagliacci, Turn of the Screw, Rigoletto, Gianni Schicchi and the company travelled from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Padstow in Cornwall.[citation needed] Pimlico Opera staged the European première of Shostakovich's musical comedy Cheryomushki at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith on 20 October 1994. A translation was commissioned David Pountney and composer Gerard McBurney to create a reduced orchestration. A documentary was made by the BBC "Another Bite of the Cherry".[8]

In prisonEdit

Pimlico Opera has been staging productions in prisons since 1991.[9] In 1993, BBC Wales filmed the three month process involved in putting on a show inside a prison. This was made into a documentary called Guys, Dolls and D-Wing that was aired on BBC2.[10]

Prison projects since 1991:

1991: HMP Wormwood Scrubs Sweeney Todd

1992: HMP Wandsworth West Side Story

1993: HMP Wandsworth Guys & Dolls

1995: HMP Wandsworth West Side Story

1996: Mountjoy Prison Dublin West Side Story [11][12]

1997: HMP Bullingdon, Oxfordshire West Side Story

1999: HMP Downview Threepenny opera.[13]

2001: HMP Winchester Threepenny Opera

2002: HMP Winchester West Side Story

2003: HMP Wormwood Scrubs Guys & Dolls

2004 HMP Ashwell, Leicestershire Assassins

2005: HMP Coldingley, Surrey Assassins[14]

2006: HMP Bronzefield Middlesex Chicago[15]

2007: HMP Wandsworth Les Miserables[16]

2008: HMP Kingston Sweeney Todd (Project cancelled)

2009: HMP Wandsworth West Side Story

2010: HMP Wandsworth Carmen - The Musical

2011: HMP Send, Surrey Sugar

2012: HMP Erlestoke, Wiltshire Les Miserables [17]

2013: HMP Erlestoke, Wiltshire West Side Story[18]

2014: HMP Bronzefield Sister Act[19]

2015: HMP ISIS Our House[20]

2017: HMP High Down Les Miserables[21]

2018: HMP Bronzefield Sweet Charity[22]

In primary schoolsEdit

Every week of the school year, Pimlico Opera gives 2,000 primary children a half hour singing class. Schools are selected in which there is little or no music provision, with KS2 results below the national average and a high percentage of free school meals.[23]

The project takes place in Hampshire, Surrey, Durham, Newcastle, and Nottingham.[24]


  1. ^ "Charity framework". apps.charitycommission.gov.uk. Retrieved 2019-01-30.
  2. ^ "OMTF Pimlico Opera profile". Opera and Musical Theatre Forum. Retrieved 2019-01-30.
  3. ^ Johnston, Rosie (1 March 2007). "Can opera save our prisons?". the Guardian. Archived from the original on 2017-05-10. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  4. ^ "House of Commons - Culture, Media and Sport - Written Evidence". publications.parliament.uk. Archived from the original on 2016-10-29. Retrieved 2019-01-30.
  5. ^ "Pimlico Opera". Opera and Musical Theatre Forum. Archived from the original on 2009-07-03. Retrieved 2019-01-31.
  6. ^ Stage, Guardian (2016-02-29). "Olivier awards 2016: complete list of nominations". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 2016-08-01. Retrieved 2019-02-14.
  7. ^ "Musical Theatre Review". 14 February 2019.
  8. ^ "OPERA / House warming: Cheryomushki - Pimlico Opera". The Independent. 1994-10-22. Retrieved 2019-02-14.
  9. ^ "Charity framework". apps.charitycommission.gov.uk. Retrieved 2019-02-14.
  10. ^ "Media: How prisoners on cell block D acted with real conviction:". The Independent. 1993-12-29. Retrieved 2019-02-14.
  11. ^ Sheridan, Kathy. "JAILHOUSE OPERA". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2019-02-14.
  12. ^ Andy Pollak. "Pros and cons produce great show in Mountjoy's Prison Playhouse". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2019-02-14.
  13. ^ Billington, By Michael (1999-02-13). "Putting the screws on a prison opera". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 2015-10-21. Retrieved 2019-02-14.
  14. ^ "Inmates to make a prison drama out of Sondheim's 'Assassins'". The Independent. 2005-03-04. Retrieved 2019-02-19.
  15. ^ Kennedy, Maev (2006-03-06). "Women prisoners stage Chicago". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-02-19.
  16. ^ "Musical Theatre Review".
  17. ^ "Musical Theatre Review".
  18. ^ "West Side Story". darragholeary.co.uk. Retrieved 2019-02-19.
  19. ^ Hugill, Robert. "Sister Act in Prison - Pimlico Opera at HMP Bronzefield". Retrieved 2019-02-19.
  20. ^ "Musical Theatre Review".
  21. ^ "Musical Theatre Review".
  22. ^ "Sweet Charity Success for HMP Bronzefield". Country.com HMP Bronzefield UK. Retrieved 2019-02-19.
  23. ^ "Pimlico Opera".
  24. ^ "Pimlico Opera".

Further readingEdit