Lime interview - Theatre
Lime Magazine interview with Lloyd Newton
EDITOR - Vernia Mengot
Founder and Artistic Director of the Pegasus Opera Company, Lloyd Newton talks to Lime about the leading mid-scale professional touring opera company in the UK.
Lloyd Newton has over 20 years of experience when it comes to singing. Having performed professionally at an international level he has appeared with English National Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Opera North, Royal Shakespeare Company, The Barbican Concert Platform and Opera National de Lyon. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Pegasus Opera Company, the leading mid-scale professional touring opera company in the UK now in its 19th Year.
As a professional singer you have performed internationally, tell us about one of your most unforgettable performances
Well the last thing I did was Opera National de Lyon, the Royal Opera House and the English National House; all over. The one at Covent Garden, I had to step in at the last moment- that was my debut at The Royal Opera House, I had to step in and sing for someone that was ill. My first professional job was at Glandore Opera that was unforgettable; being part of that, it was the best production in the late eighties.
You are the Founder and Artistic Director of the Pegasus Opera Company, now its 19th year, what inspired you to start the company?
That production [Glandore Opera] inspired me, being involved in best in 1986, there was an amazing amount of black singers, and it was all black cast. It became the definitive. The production we did was recorded by EMI. It was an amazing time for me and I was involved; in that it led to The Pegasus Opera Company.
What was the response when you set up 20 years ago?
We set up in 1992. Well, initially lots of people were very for it. I started with four singers and we did workshops in schools and people really wanted it. People where enthusiastic and it was very hard work.
What productions can we look forward to this summer from the Pegasus Opera Company?
This summer, we are not doing a production. We are planning to do a fundraising gala for Black History Month. The last production we did was Scott Joplin's Treemonisha on a national tour and at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in the Southbank.
Due to the funding climate, we are going through organisational review. Last year we went through a very rough patch, but the singing academy is thriving. It started 18 months ago, it’s in its second year and that’s doing very well.
So is funding your biggest challenge?
Yes the biggest challenge is finding funding, incredibly.
Is it fair to say that this is common among the black community, in regards to performing arts?
Totally! Pegasus has been funded through arts council. It’s incredible that we survived. We’ve had many trusts or foundations. But the Arts Council is on a project to project basis, not as core funding. So we came close to folding. That’s why we are going through organisational review to see how well we are placed in the market and whether we can be sustainable. I don’t know how the future is going to hold up but I’m looking for support.
Are you working on any new projects?
At the moment we are being funded by the Garfield Western Foundation to do an organisational review to see how best we fit it the market, with a new business plan to see how we can reposition our selves. As time s change we have to keep up with them, try and move with times.
Where in the Caribbean are you from?
I’m originally from Jamaica; I came to UK in 1971 as a youth to join my parents. I did my schooling here went to university, and became a secondary teacher. I did that for fifteen years. And then I branched out of teaching.
Where in the Caribbean would you recommend us to visit?
Jamaica, yeah! It’s beautiful.
Where in London reminds you of the Caribbean?
I work in Brixton so you can’t get anything less than that. I’m right in the heart of it.
What makes you proud to be Jamaican?
We are fighters, we don’t give up easy. We face a lot of adversity but we don’t give up easily. That is instilled in us from a very young age. We have seen our parents struggle so it’s something we are resilient to survive.
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