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About Us

In 1988 a group of Wedmore residents, seated around a kitchen table, determined to stage La Traviata in the Village Hall.

Since then, every two years or so, hundreds of people living in and around the village of Wedmore, in Somerset, work alongside professional singers, players and designers to create a new production. Wedmore is home to many talented people, but our careful selection of professional soloists and Charlie Cridlan’s outstanding set and costume designs are what ensures that our productions are outstanding, rather than merely ‘very good’.

We believe that excellent opera can be life-changing experience for anyone, of any age; for young people in particular great experiences in the arts can open doors they never imagined existed.

Wedmore Opera is a charitable company. This means that any income we make goes straight back into our productions. Our money comes from a mixture of selling tickets, programmes and refreshments, fundraising events, donations (every £1 donated takes us closer to our target) and the occasional grant. We keep our ticket prices as low as we can, so that everyone can be involved.

'We' are:

Judith Blake
Producer - Judith Blake
From a musical family, Judith developed her love of music, and in particular singing, early, inspired by her grandmother, a singer with The Carl Rosa Opera Company. Judith joined a number of choirs in her native Cumbria including Cockermouth Community Choir and the Castlegate Singers. In Somerset, she has been a member of the Maesbury Singers and Wells Oratorio. A lover of musicals, Judith was at one time active with Wells Little Theatre but it was when she joined Wedmore Opera in 2007 that her passion for opera was truly ignited - captivated by the company’s dedication to making opera accessible. Dido and Aeneas marked Judith’s debut as producer, a role in which she enjoyed developing her knowledge and skills.
Designer - Charlie Cridlan
Charlie first worked with Wedmore Opera in 2000 on Jago and has since designed their productions of The Pearl Fishers, Tosca, La Bohème and Eleanor Vale. Based in Central London, Charlie’s work as a set and costume designer covers theatre, opera, exhibition and event design. Recent projects include the design for the UK National Tour, Mr Stink by David Walliams; Three Sisters at the Rose Theatre and Shore at the Lyric. She has worked in spaces as varied as Wilton’s Music Hall, The Roundhouse, London and open air seasons at Scoop by More London; and for companies that include English Touring Theatre, Bristol Old Vic, The Barbican Centre, HTV Bristol, Channel 4, Endemol and Living TV. Exhibition clients include Wavelength Ltd, ?What If!, Diageo & Shepherd's Bush Empire.
Musical director and conductor - Carolyn Doorbar
As a professional flute player, Carolyn trained with leading players Laurie Beers and Douglas Townshend, worked regularly with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and toured with a variety of ensembles in Europe, while also teaching young musicians. Since 1988, when she picked up a baton for the first time for WO’s production of La Traviata, she has been musical director and conductor for all our productions. She has also conducted other companies’ productions: Sondheim’s Into the Woods, Brecht’s Threepenny Opera and Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret, and has composed music for productions of Midsummer Night’s Dream, Under Milk Wood and A Christmas Carol.
President - Mark Hamlin
Mark has always been committed to the arts. He worked as a lighting designer on productions in Germany, at The Edinburgh Festival, and with a touring theatre company while still at school and was then invited to design lighting rigs for ATV – the large Midlands-based TV company. Mark subsequently trained as a Clinical Psychologist and researched the impact of environmental lead on children’s intelligence, a study that resulted in the introduction of lead-free petrol. After leading a health promotion department in the NHS, he started a new career as a Management Consultant – establishing the ORGroup of Companies in 1990. Since then Mark has worked with a wide variety of clients internationally on Strategy, Leadership and Change. The ORFoundation supports many community-based arts groups in the UK as well as funding start-up not-for-profit organisations in Africa.

Director - Marylin Johnstone
After a career that encompassed teaching, acting with West Country Drama in Education Service and with Lemonzest Theatre Company, and being an examiner for the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Marylin re-trained as an arts administrator and managed several small-scale arts festivals, including the first Wedmore Arts Festival in 2000. She has directed every WO production, recruiting and enthusing a 200-strong volunteer workforce as well as fundraising. With Carolyn Doorbar, she set up noc opera limited and commissioned Mike and Kate Westbrook to write a piece for solo soprano voice and piano. Directed by Marylin, conducted by Carolyn and starring Marie Vassiliou, Cape Gloss: Mathilda’s Story premiered at Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival in February 2007.


Wedmore Opera Limited registered office: 1 New Street, Wells, Somerset BA5 2LA