Julian Hope: Opera director noted for his work at Glyndebourne and with the Welsh National Opera

Julian Hope was an opera director who also worked in television and film production. He was erudite, talented and self-effacing, with a wiry wit, and was, at times, elusive. He seldom missed new productions of operas and was an avid theatre and concertgoer. There was little he did not know about any of the arts, but opera was his first love .

He viewed his Scottish paternal ancestry with a certain detachment, and very rarely referred to the title of 2nd Baron (Lord) Glendevon, inherited from his father, a Conservative minister in the government of Harold Macmillan. He was educated at Eton and Christchurch College, Oxford, where as a freshman he produced The Marriage of Figaro with the young Jane Glover as conducter. It was a triumph, described in the national press as "the best student show seen for decades", and was followed by Cavalli's La Rosinda, also conducted by Glover, who was to become a lifelong friend.

At the age of only 23 he joined the Welsh National Opera as a resident producer, excelling at verismo works such as Puccini's Manon Lescaut. He also worked as an associate producer for the Glyndebourne Festival during the late 1970s and early '80s, acting as assistant director to Jean-Pierre Ponnelle on his celebrated production of Verdi's Falstaff and assisting him in 1981 at San Francisco Opera, where they staged Bizet's Carmen with a cast that included Placido Domingo. He is remembered from those days as a sensitive mentor to many young singers. Brian Dickie, currently director of the Chicago Opera, describes him as "an outstanding assistant director and a talented director of his own shows."

As a freelance producer he enjoyed a number of successes with semi-staged productions, often at the Barbican, which included a little known work of Rimsky-Korsakov's Milada, and Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale with Gary Oldman as the soldier. There was also a memorable performance of Mendelsohn's setting of A Midsummer Night's Dream with a cast of actors which included Peter Eyre and Phoebe Nichols.

Hope was always a consummate film-buff and moved with ease into the role of music co-ordinator (amounting to music finder) for the film Princess Caraboo, directed by Michael Austin in 1994, and, more recently for Onegin in 1999, directed by Martha Fiennes with her brother Ralph in the title role. Hope appears in one scene as a whiskered guitarist. He recently directed the play Violet for Jessica Douglas-Home, performed on numerous occasions in different locations in the United Kingdom and earlier this year at an arts festival in Romania. It tells the story of Violet Gordon Woodhouse, the harpsichord player.

The critical success of the recent film The Painted Veil gave him considerable satisfaction, as did the brand new opera of The Letter, which made its debut last July in Santa Fe.

Hope's maternal grandfather was William Somerset Maugham, a fact of which he was proud, and in recent years he became a literary executor of the estate, involved in the performing rights negotiations.

His generosity of spirit and erudition was well known and on hearing that I was writing a book about a heroine of the Italian Renaissance, Julian found an obscure Spanish film about the Borgias, in which she was the heroine, and had a screening and a supper party at his Bayswater flat for me.

His sharp and analytical mind was undimmed until the last hours of his life, when his younger brother Jonathan was struggling with a crossword clue, "tall gangly person", 13 letters, seated at the end of his hospital bed. Julian's faint voice came up from the many pillows with the right answer, "spindleshanks" .

Julian Hope led an immensely civilised life, his time divided between his two apartments, in London and Paris. He was a bibliophile and polymath, and only last year wrote and directed a short play called Moika about Pushkin's last day on earth. It was performed to an invited audience last year, with actors Louis Waymouth and Matthew Sturgis as Pushkin and his butler and will, it is hoped, appear to wider audiences in the future.

To quote Christopher Simon Sykes in his eulogy at Hopes' funeral service, "[Julian] was the rarest of companions, what Baudelaire would have called a flaneur, a man who strolled through life with history, art and literature as his guide." Several people who knew him have remarked that no party was complete without Hope's urbane presence. He was much loved by a large circle of friends.

Celia Lyttelton

Julian Hohn Somerset Hope, opera director and producer: born 6 March 1950; died London 29 September 2009.

Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

1st line call logger/ User access administrator

£9 Per Hour: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Warrington a...

Shine Night Walk 2014 - 'On the night' volunteer roles

Unpaid Voluntary Work : Cancer Research UK: We need motivational volunteers to...

Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivable)

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable...

Senior IT Trainer - Buckinghamshire - £250 - £350 p/d

£200 - £300 per day: Ashdown Group: IT Trainer - Marlow, Buckinghamshire - £25...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star