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Our Aim

Les Azuriales Opera focuses on finding truly outstanding young artists and making a significant difference to their early operatic careers. We have an excellent track record of identifying and encouraging talented young singers through our Young Artist Programme.


To achieve our aims:

  • We award scholarships and bursaries to help our alumni and others with specific projects which will make a significant difference to their careers - More Info.

  • We ensure that the members of our Company of Angels (our donors) are able to engage with our Young Artists as much as possible - More Info.


At the foot of this page you will find our history and inspiration.

Sarah Holford, President of Les Azuriales Opera

How Les Azuriales is run

Les Azuriales Opera is administered almost entirely by volunteers (as opposed to the musical organisation, which is entirely professional). Sarah Holford, the Opera's President, (see photo) is assisted by Clotilde Hocquard and a London based assistant both of whom provide part-time administration. Mark Holford is the Director of Development, whose principal role is fund raising for Les Azuriales' activities.


Set out below are the various people and organisations that make up Les Azuriales.





Since its foundation, Les Azuriales' Music Director has been Bryan Evans MBE. He is probably the world's finest exponent of piano accompanied opera, having been involved in this art form for over 25 years. He is also the Music Director of Diva Opera, our opera partner.


Bryan is a member of the panel that selects those who we audition for our scholarships and bursaries. The other permanent members are Sarah Holford, our founder and Sarah-Jane Davis, soprano now with Scottish Opera as a Head of Casting with special responsibility for their Young Artists Programme.





The role of the Comité is to support the Festival in its artistic aims and provide guidance on its funding.

The members of the Comité are:

  • Richard Salter KC (leading commercial barrister and major opera benefactor)

  • Sir Vernon Ellis (President of English National Opera, President of Classical Opera, Chairman of the National Opera Studio and major opera benefactor)

  • Dame Antoinette Sibley DBE (Prima Ballerina and opera lover)

  • Christopher Hampson CBE, (former Chairman of RMC Group plc and British Biotech plc  and opera lover)




This is a UK registered charity (Reg. No. 1077210 - our Charity Commission entry), whose main objective is to support our summer season, although its objects include the supporting of music generally, including helping young singers and promoting education through opera. It is also, where appropriate, able to support repair and restoration of the buildings in which we perform.


All Friends' donations are given to the Trust. The trustees are Fiona Brannon, George Gluck, Sarah Holford, Mark Holford, Thomas Holford, Katherine Price and Richard Slater QC.  The Chairman is Sarah Holford, the founder of Les Azuriales.



This is the organisation that runs our activities in France and it is an officially registered "Association" (Siret: 440 834 349 00019) with its registered office ("Siège Social") at Les Azuriales Opera's Nice address. All Angels become "Membres Amis". The President is Sarah Holford, the founder of Les Azuriales.

Our History & Inspiration

Les Azuriales Opera was founded by London lawyer, Sarah Holford and her husband, Mark , in 1997 as a summer festival taking place in the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild on Cap Ferrat, the Mediterranean's most exclusive location.


From then until 2011 Les Azuriales Opera presented 15 seasons with more than 40 operas both as own productions and in co-operation with its musical partner, Diva Opera. The performances provided the select company of 200 guests with unforgettable evenings of opera in a fairytale setting.


In 2012 for a variety of reasons (including rising costs and increased logistical challenges) we evolved the Festival into a smaller programme focused on supporting young artists. We have retained a small number of opera events in the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, as part of our summer programme.


The new format iwas built around our Young Artists Programme which we had started in 2003, which included a singing competition and masterclasses. We believed that we made a difference to our Young Artists by helping them develop their early careers. Our reputation has steadily grown with a number of our alumni going on to join the Jette Parker Young Artists programme at the Royal Opera House and and winning of some of Europe’s leading singing competitions, such as the Kathleen Ferrier Prize and the Montserrat Caballe Prize.

After our 2019 season, we stopped our summer season as it had become too onerous for us to run. We are now working on new ways to continue our support of Young Artists.


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