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Our Story

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.

Meet the Team

Marylin Johnstone

Founding Artistic Director


Marylin is one of the founders of Wedmore Opera. After a career in theatre and education that has encompassed teaching, working as an actor 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, she re-trained as an arts administrator and managed several small-scale arts festivals, including the first Wedmore Arts Festival in 2000. Marylin has directed and produced every one of Wedmore Opera’s 15 productions, recruiting and enthusing a 200-strong volunteer workforce and looking for funds. In 2001 Marylin and Carolyn Doorbar 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 soprano Marie Vassiliou, Cape Gloss: Mathilda’s Story premiered at Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival, at the University of Plymouth, in February 2007. Marylin retains her commitment to providing people of all ages with excellent experiences of the arts and recently directed an acclaimed production of Miss Saigon for Sidcot School.

Carolyn Doorbar

Musical Director, Conductor and Co-founder

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.

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.

Mairi Coyle

Director of Opera at the Movies (2016) & The Pirates of Penzance (2017)

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Mairi graduated in Theatre Studies from the University of Glasgow and has a PGCE (English & Drama) from the University of Strathclyde. She studied singing with Joan Alexander and Patricia MacMahon and latterly with Mary King.

She has performed with Scottish Opera, Opera Holland Park, Pimlico Opera, G&S Festival Company and Opera on a Shoestring. Roles include Mrs Lovett (Sweeney Todd), Jenny (Company), The Wife (Putting it Together), Sara Jane Moore (Assassins), Old Woman (Les Miserables, Juno (Orpheus in the Underworld), Duchess of Plaza Toro (The Gondoliers), Pitti-Sing (The Mikado), Ruth and Kate (The Pirates of Penzance), Melissa (Princess Ida) and Mabel (Mack and Mabel in Concert).

As a director of work for young people and communities, Mairi has worked for Welsh National Opera, National Theatre, English National Opera, Scottish Opera, National Opera Studio, Scottish Youth Theatre, Music in Hospitals and Perth Theatre among others. She recently directed the premiere of The Pied Piper, a new community opera by Matthew King.

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If you would like to be part of the team,  contact us


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