More ToTa projects

Theatre of the Ayre Projects and Programmes

Inventing Bel Canto

Glorious 5 part madrigals by Sigismondo d’India including the epic setting of Gurarini’s Se tu Silvio, Crudel.

Joanne Lunn soprano, Anna Staruskkevych mezzo soprano, Nicholas Mulroy, Nicholas Pritchard, tenors, Giles Underwood bass baritone.

Elizabeth Kenny, theorbo, Robert Howarth, harpsichord

performed in the Villa Medicea, Florence for Martin Randall Travel Festival of Florence


George Hinchliffe, David Bowie Jnr, Leisa Rea, Nick Browning ukes
Liz Kenny, Clara Sanabras, Jacob Heringman, David Miller lutes (see Theatre of the Ayre page for more information and video clips).


Ayres and Dialogues

Matthew Brook and Nicholas Mulroy: male conversations from renaissance philosophers to Corydon and Mopsa. With Jacob Heringman, lutes, orpharions and other exotica.

Dowland: Anniversary Collection

Music in the Round tour of music by Dowland, Campion and Rachel Stott. With Robin Blaze, Pamela Thorby and Alison McGillivray.

Venus and Adonis

Funding from Arts Council England and underwriting from the SHM Foundations enabled Theatre of the Ayre to enter the elusive world of highly trained girls’ voices that reached its high point in Mary Davies’ performance as Venus, with her daughter Lady Mary Tudor as Cupid, in 1683.


'Lutenist Elizabeth Kenny assembled a crack-squad of top instrumentalists'

Gramophone October 2010

'This important concert, being recorded for Wigmore Hall Live, celebrated John Blow's Venus & Adonis (c.1683) in its proper place as the earliest surviving English opera.

Elizabeth Kenny's meticulously prepared semi-staged production (drawing on some of the most prestigious names in British Early Music) raised it to a level fully comparable with the far more famous Dido and Aeneas of Purcell.

All three main singers were excellent ….and the supporting group of shepherds and huntsmen likewise strong, notably Frederick Long. An important part is played by Cupid, attended in this production by a group of Cupids and Graces from Salisbury Cathedral School, charmingly choreographed. The supporting items were enjoyable, the French composer Michel Lambert new to me.

Most of the instrumental soloists in the baroque band had significant opportunities, Alison McGillivray's bass violin eye and ear catching, as were the plucked strings taking to guitar as well as the more usual theorbos. The balance was fine in the hall, leaving one to wonder why a dozen microphones were needed for the recording, which should become a benchmark collectors’ item.'

'The post-interval performance of Venus and Adonis was reinforced by a chorus of Cupids from a Southampton primari school and girls from Salisbury Cathedral school, with 12-year-old Rebecca Lyles singing the principal Cupid role with evident enjoyment and considerable charm.

The Cupids’ parents and siblings in the audience were a refreshingly youthful additino to the normal age profile of classical music audiences.'

Early Music Review, August 2010 of Southampton performance May 4th 2010

'As importantly, an education package devised by Cathryn Dew of the National Centre for Early Music enabled Kenny and Theatre of the Ayre to recruit Cupids from schools in York, Southampton and Oxford.

The groundbreaking work of the girls choir at Salisbury Cathedral had captured my attention, and the girls, including Rebecca Lyles as a wonderful Cupid, were the link I every performance, turning in poised and expressive singing as the core of each Cupids’ chorus.

The performances of all the professionals were impressive and highly entertaining, but the children really stole the show. Not opera as I know it but proof that it can be for all ages and tastes, and that Britain really has got talent!'

Oxford Daily, Jan 2011

The Masque of Moments

Features music taken from a dazzling array of 17th-century masques. Lutes, harps, viols and voices combine with singers whose sublimity vies with moments of insanity.

Includes songs and dances by Thomas Lupo, John Coprario, Thomas Campion, Alfonso Ferrabosco and Robert Johnson, along with later works by the Lawes brothers and Matthew Locke.

Praying for Reign: the private music of a king in waiting (developed 2004-5)

Opulent chamber music for the son the Louis XIV, the Grand Dauphin. A rarely heard combination of three voices, three recorders and continuo, in works by Marc-Antoine Charpentier. The project, a collaboration between Liz Kenny and musicologists Shirley Thompson and Graham Sadler, included several first performances of virtuoso motets since the seventeenth century.

Performances at St George’s Bristol, Turner Sims Southampton, York National Centre for Early Music (Christmas Festival), Hull Chamber Music Society.

Original tour funded by Arts Council England.