A dragon is terrorizing the Yorkshire countryside, devouring anything it meets. The only person who can save the locals is a drunken squire – if he can put down his pint. He agrees, but just as daunting as his monstrous opponent is the love triangle that ensues. Will the dragon prevail? And who will get their man? 

The Dragon of Wantley, the 1737 smash hit of the London season, parodies Handel’s serious operas – as well as poking fun at the government of the day. The combination of Lampe’s first-rate music (of which Handel himself approved) and wonderfully witty libretto by Henry Carey makes this opera a comic gem.

Don’t miss the rare chance to see this masterpiece of English comic opera performed with a traditional period orchestra as New Sussex Opera sets the opera in a South Yorkshire of the 1980’s (against the background of the miners’ strike). The recent recording of THE DRAGON OF WANTLEY from the Brook Street Band and conductor John Andrews won BBC Music Magazine 2023 Award in Opera. 

Conductor Toby Purser and director Paul Higgins join forces again following their success with Stanford’s The Travelling Companion for New Sussex Opera, which was nominated for an International Opera Award, with what was a world première recording released on the SOMM label.

“The terrifically silly Dragon of Wantley by Handel’s bassoonist Frederick Lampe (possibly the greatest opera of all time), is touring the south east with New Sussex Opera from 14 April, and not to be missed.” Robert Thicknesse

“NSO’s revival of a forgotten 18th-century burlesque opera is a rare treat.”

“Carey’s text contains contemporary satirical resonances that would surely be lost on a modern audience. So director Paul Higgins has updated the period of the piece to the 1980s miners’ strike, which was eventually defeated by prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Splendidly arrayed in a magnificently characteristic Thatcherite costume, complete with enormous handbag, the former PM, sung by Robert Gildon, is in this instance the ‘dragon’ defeated by Professor Moore.

There’s fine playing on period instruments from the Bellot Ensemble in the pit, with conductor Toby Purser maintaining a taut grip on the score’s unstoppable momentum.” The Stage 15/04

Read the whole review here

All Saints Centre, Lewes, Sunday 14 April 7 pm

The Old Market, Hove, Sunday 21 April 4 pm

Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, Friday 26 April 7.30 pm

Theatre Royal, Winchester, Sunday 28 April 4 pm

Blackheath Halls, London, Sunday 5 May 4 pm

Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne, Sunday 12 May 4 pm


New Sussex Opera Chorus
Bellot Ensemble
conductor Toby Purser
director Paul Higgins
designer Mollie Cheek
lighting Emma Gasson
dramaturg Benjamin Poore
cast includes
Ana Beard
Charlotte Badham
Magnus Walker
Robert Gildon

“One of the UK’s most enterprising small opera companies, New Sussex Opera constantly surprises with its ambition and the quality of its fully staged productions.” Opera Now September 2018

“New Sussex Opera continues to set the pace in terms of unfamiliar operas, imaginatively staged.” Classical Source

“I have been in awe of the courageous adventurousness of your work over many decades.” Simon Banks, authoor of “Opera: the autobiography of the Western World”.

New Sussex Opera is a community based company. If you would like to be involved beyond being a member of the audience at our productions, there are many possibilities. Click About NSO for more background information, and Taking part for more about what opportunities are available. If as a singer you would like to take part in our next production click here for more information.

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