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Executive Director Longborough Festival Opera

Situated in the heart of the Cotswolds, Longborough Festival Opera, an internationally renowned opera company, is looking for its next dynamic and enthusiastic Executive Director to provide inspirational strategic direction for its work, and to promote its vision.

  • Location: Hybrid working
  • Salary: £60,000 - £70,000

Location: Hybrid working – part home working and part office based at New Banks Fee, Longborough, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire GL56 0QF.

Championing opera from its 500-seat purpose-built opera house, Longborough Festival Opera has a proud heritage of international renown. With a base which has stunning vistas over the surrounding countryside, this is an organisation rooted in the Cotswolds but with an artistic and organisational vision that reaches far beyond.

Begun in the grounds of the Graham family home in 1991, Longborough Festival Opera has grown into an established and respected opera company specialising in the delivery of Wagnerian opera of world-class standard:

‘Opera needs this kind of intrepid eccentricity’ – The Observer

Who we are

Longborough Festival Opera has become widely known for its focus on detail and passion for quality. The Graham family have dedicated their lives to this dream, creating a life that intermingles family life with opera, running a charity with running a home. Their love, particularly of the works of Richard Wagner, has created a deep connection with artists, audiences, and staff who have been inspired by their commitment.

In 2013, they achieved what some might have said to be impossible, presenting a full-length production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle with a minimal budget but to great critical acclaim. This put Longborough firmly on the map as the destination and company of choice for many Wagnerians both in the UK and worldwide. To this end, the company will be performing the full cycle once again in 2024, an exciting time both for the organisation, its performers and its staff. The tackling of such theatrically and musically demanding works has without exception been well received, with excellent reviews and growing audience figures, year on year.

Longborough Festival Opera produces four new productions every year, staging a wealth of operatic gems, ranging from Baroque to living composers. Off stage, the charity delivers an ambitious education programme, introducing opera and singing to local schools as well as providing outstanding performance opportunities to our local community. In 2023, we worked with over 3,000 students via our outstanding education and outreach programmes.

‘Longborough Festival Opera knows how to put on Wagner…a tremendous, all-consuming staging’ – The Times

Ambitious, dedicated to emerging artists, embedded in its local community but with a keen eye to the future and evolving its model, Longborough Festival Opera presents an attractive opportunity for a lover of opera to become its next Executive Director.

About the role

The Executive Director will work closely with the Trustees, the incoming Chair, the Artistic Director, and the Graham family. Based at Longborough but with the option for hybrid working, you will build on the foundation of planning that has already been done for 2024 and beyond, working with the Artistic Director and the board to carve a new path of creativity and strategic direction.

Reporting to the Board and with direct line management for the organisation, you will be a figurehead of communication for the company, ensuring the values and vision of Longborough Festival Opera are reflected throughout. The main jobs central to this role include oversight of finance, marketing and box office, operations and site, front of house, membership, fundraising, education, artistic administration, production management, and orchestra management.

Leading the organisation jointly with Artistic Director, Polly Graham, you will be responsible for the operational and financial success of the company, collaborating with the Artistic Director to deliver a world-class artistic programme.

An inspired leader and motivator of people you will create a culture of best practice, working with the Board, to ensure that clear strategy, planning and operations are in place to support the vision of the Artistic Director and ensuring that the organisation performs to the best of its ability. Leading by example, you will embody Longborough Festival Opera’s values, creating a positive, curious and transparent culture.

Responsible for the financial health and prosperity of Longborough Festival Opera, the next Executive Director will report to the board, mitigating financial and operational risks as they arise. You will ensure the smooth running of all aspects of financial management, reporting, tracking and forecasting and will be responsible for the annual reports to Trustees.

A supportive manager, you will manage workload, set objectives for staff and monitor standards and progress throughout the organisation. One of your key roles will be to ensure the smooth running of operations and to liaise, guide, and enable the team, and support them in their problem-solving. You will identify opportunities for growth and development on an individual and organisation-wide basis. You will assume responsibility for the organisation’s equity, diversity and inclusion engagement.

You will ensure that governance and compliance is adhered to at all times and will support the continuing development of Longborough Festival Opera’s Board and governance. A champion of site and company-wide developments and engagement, you will ensure that the organisation is a safe, engaging and fit-for-purpose space in which to work. The next Executive Director will work closely with the Artistic Director’s vision to ensure that the operational aspects of the organisation anticipate and meet the needs of their operatic and creative output.

An ambassador for Longborough, the next Executive Director will work closely with the Chair, Trustees and Artistic Director to engage with new partners, audience goers and supporters to broaden its reach. You will be actively involved in the development of a marketing strategy to engage new audiences and partners, as well as nurturing existing relationships to ensure Longborough Festival Opera is recognised on a national level.


Flexible and agile, you will work with the marketing team to oversee strategy and brand in order to maximise the reach of the work. Similarly, you will oversee the development of the education programme, supporting the team and ensuring this is reflected and in symbiosis with the strategy.

The Executive Director will be required to attend all trustee meetings (4 per year), the AGM (1 per year), performances (20 per year), and member events (around 10 per year).

Who we are looking for

The next Executive Director at Longborough Festival Opera will need to have proven leadership and management skills. You must be proactive, resourceful and hands-on, with an eye for new approaches and solutions.

Comfortable with leadership and collaborative versatile working environments, you will have experience in developing and implementing strategies across the organisation. You will also have a proven track record of managing and curating an organisation during a time of change and metamorphosis.

You will have experience in financial management and in ensuring the financial viability of the organisation, ensuring the success of securing voluntary or commercial income.

Your communication skills, both written and verbal, must be outstanding and be highly effective in representing Longborough Festival Opera at a strategic and local level.  Coupled with highly developed interpersonal skills, and effective negotiating abilities, you will demonstrate a high level of personal integrity, have a track record of sound diplomacy, and the ability to conflate and distil ideas to find a way forward.

Highly organised, a multitasker and a self-starter, the next Executive Director will be entirely comfortable with being a representative of Longborough Festival Opera and will be curious, interested and engaged with the world of opera. You will have the ability to lead the team at all levels, and to drive the operations and strategy of the company.  Equally skilled with external organisations and individuals, you will have a track record in representing organisations at local and national levels.

In addition, you will demonstrate a personal commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion and will have a suite of skills to bring to Longborough Festival Opera in this regard.

The next Executive Director should have a track record in:

  • Strategic and operational leadership
  • Financial management
  • Staff management
  • Governance and compliance
  • Site management
  • Opera, music, or theatre production
  • Fundraising and development
  • External affairs
  • Education
  • Marketing and data protection

For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners:

Rebekah Abbott | rebekah@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07538 270749

Alison Maxwell | alison@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07498 071852

If you would like to know more about this role please contact Rebekah Abbott

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Welcome from Founders and Chair

Thank you for your interest in the role of Executive Director at Longborough Festival Opera (LFO).

Opera is for Everyone.

Our aim is to celebrate opera as an art form, develop artists of the future, and address the barriers to accessing music, especially in rural areas, by working with schools and communities.

LFO started in 1991 with Martin and Lizzie Graham hosting opera in their Gloucestershire garden. From these early years, their commitment grew as well as their ambition. In 1996, they converted a barn into a 500-seat opera house. We now welcome almost 10,000 people to our summer opera festival, which now boasts national and international fame. Alongside the productions on stage, we have a vibrant education programme that works with 3,000 local students per annum to widen access to music and to inspire. We aim to be an outward looking, innovative opera company, a platform for inclusive learning & collaboration, with participation and quality at its core.

LFO has a strong sense of community. Artists and audiences continually thank us for the friendly and welcoming nature of our festival, and our longstanding connection with the local area is a vital part of our identity.

This is an incredibly exciting time to be joining Longborough. In summer 2024, LFO will be performing three fully-staged productions of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. This is the most monumental of operatic works, normally only achieved at the largest of opera houses. This epic production is testament to our reputation, to the commitment of a small team, and to the loyalty of our members and audience.

After nine years, our current Executive Director is stepping down. We are seeking an individual who is inspired by what we do, is forward thinking, and has a get-stuck-in attitude. The Executive Director will understand that people are at the heart of any organisation and will, alongside the Chair, Andrew Mosely, and Artistic Director, Polly Graham, confidently steer Longborough to a new future. Ideally we are looking for someone who has previous experience of managing an arts organisation.

This is an exciting role; a role suited to someone who thrives at managing a varied workload, enjoys a fast-paced, creative environment, and is a committed team player. As Executive Director you will be overseeing all aspects of a producing opera house; this is a vital role in ensuring all departments are working together cohesively, enabling us to produce outstanding opera and to inspire all generations with this outstanding artform.

Thank you for your interest and we invite you to join us to write the next chapter of our story.


Lizzie and Martin Graham | Founders

Andrew Mosely | Chair

For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners:

Rebekah Abbott | rebekah@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07538 270749

Alison Maxwell | alison@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07498 071852

About Longborough Festival Opera

Longborough Festival Opera (LFO) started in 1991 when Martin and Lizzie Graham hosted opera performances in their garden to 400 people. It has since grown into an established opera company, with an annual season taking place in a purpose-built opera house seating 500.

Welcoming around 10,000 people every summer, audiences travel from around the world to enjoy its performances. LFO has an international reputation, both in cultivating emerging artists as well as showcasing upcoming Wagnerian singers. In 2013, Longborough received wide-ranging acclaim for becoming the first privately-run UK opera house to present Wagner’s epic Ring cycle.

Since then, the organisation has grown and expanded, broadening its administrative team, developing an outstanding local education programme, welcoming more audience and members and producing ever more exciting operas on its stage. In 2018, acclaimed opera director Polly Graham was appointed Artistic Director, and was quickly praised by Richard Morrison as offering a ‘bold new direction’ for the Festival. LFO’s vision is Opera for Everyone, underpinned by its aspiration to be grounded in innovation, artistic excellence, community vibrancy, and financial sustainability.

‘Longborough is one of the smaller country opera houses, yet one which continues to punch massively above its weight’ – The Independent

‘The Longborough phenomenon continues, indeed if anything it gets more remarkable each year’ – Spectator

‘Britain’s Leading Wagner House’ – Opera Now

LFO has continued to grow. Income has increased by 75% since 2015 and it is projected to grow a further 32% in 2024.

‘An administrative team of 10 people run the organisation throughout the year; 250 seasonal freelancers—including artists, players, stage management—then join the team for the summer festival, bringing the theatre to life.’ The board are active and involved, with many skills represented; everyone at LFO is passionate about the LFO and is invested in its future.

Proud of their strong relationships with the local community, LFO’s educational work. So strong is this opportunity, there is now a waiting list of schools to join. Similarly, recognising their role in nurturing emerging artists too, the organisation is ground-breaking in production, direction and interpretation. Examples of such performances include The Cunning Little Vixen and Cavalli’s La Calisto. This plethora of forward-thinking approaches is complemented by the classic staging, such as Orfeo ed Euridice

LFO’s Work 2023-2024

Summer Festival

Traditionally, each summer season includes four new productions. LFO actively seek out exciting talent, both for the cast as well as the creative team, devising productions that will only be seen at Longborough.  One of these four productions is part of the Emerging Artist programme, which celebrates emerging talent on the stage. This Programme has been part of Longborough’s work since 2009 and provides a professional, fully supported production to showcase & celebrate the next generation of opera stars. Demand is high: for a cast of 12 in 2023, LFO received 380 applications. LFO also actively engages the local community in at least one of the summer productions, via their youth and community choruses. This is both a vital link to the community and is crucial in supporting the next generation of performers.

Longborough is renowned for staging the works of Richard Wagner, providing a much-lauded audience experience of being immersed in the epic scale of Wagnerian opera in an intimate theatre. This creates a palpable link between the artists and audience, an experience that lures back artists and audience year after year. Led by the long-standing and much lauded Music Director Anthony Negus, LFO’s Wagner productions continually received strong critical and audience acclaims.

‘Negus is a Wagnerian of profound experience and authority’ – Gramophone

‘Longborough’s reputation – and with it that of Negus – for honouring Wagner was once more underlined” – Guardian

Ring Cycle 2024

In 2024, Longborough Festival Opera will stage three cycles of Richard Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung. The Bayreuth Festival will do likewise and will receive some €15m of state funding for its season: by contrast, Longborough will receive none.

This disparity draws attention to Longborough’s improbable triumph and unavoidable stresses. The Ring is the most ambitious operatic project for any opera house to mount, one which has been carefully fundraised and planned for since 2018.

‘Judging by this opening of Rheingold, it is certainly going to be a Ring to travel miles to hear’ – Opera Now

In short, the 2024 season will be exciting, memorable, and artistically laudable.

Learning and Participation

LFO’s learning and participation work has been carefully devised to nurture a love of music, of opera and to encourage creativity in young people. LFO prioritise local, rural state schools who have poor access to transport and quality cultural experiences.

Starting in primary schools, the joy of music is initially shared through Kodaly singing lessons. For older students there is a touring opera troupe, entitled the “Playground Opera” programme. Teenagers are also supported, with opportunities to engage with behind-the-scenes workshops and free tickets to the theatre in Longborough. Through these projects, the Company encourage students to join the Youth Chorus, to develop their voices, nurture performance skills and to have the unique opportunity to appear on stage alongside professional artists. Since 2014, LFO have created a talent pipeline, opening up access to classical music/opera as well as creating performance opportunities for local young people.

In 2023, LFO reached around 3,000 young people through the education and outreach programme, a growth of 250% since 2014.

Learn more about Longborough Festival Opera

For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners:

Rebekah Abbott | rebekah@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07538 270749

Alison Maxwell | alison@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07498 071852

Accessibility information

We understand that different members of the community have different access needs, and have made some modifications to the way we do business in order to accommodate people from diverse communities and abilities. We offer the following amenities:

  • Accessibility dogs are welcome
  • Papers and materials can be presented in different formats
  • A sign language interpreter can be accessed for interviews
  • Working patterns and locations can be adjusted

Longborough Festival Opera is also part of the I-Opera’s Kindness and Dignity Pledge initiative.

Applicants with a disability are invited to contact us in confidence at any point during the recruitment process to discuss steps that could be taken to overcome operational difficulties presented by the role, or if any adjustments or support are required regarding the recruitment process.

For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners:

Rebekah Abbott | rebekah@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07538 270749

Alison Maxwell | alison@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07498 071852

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    Please ensure that your application is emailed to response@peridotpartners.co.uk inserting “Longborough Festival Opera – Executive Director” into the subject field.

    For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners:

    Rebekah Abbott | rebekah@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07538 270749

    Alison Maxwell | alison@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07498 071852

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    Closing date: 5 p.m. Wednesday 1st November 2023
    Candidates informed of outcome: Wednesday 8th November 2023
    First Stage Interviews: Tuesday 14th November 2023
    Second Stage Interviews: Thursday  23rd November 2023

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