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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Extras
indybest
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
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

Science teachers needed in Norwich

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Science teachers requ...

Semi Senior Accountant - Music

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful, Central London bas...

English teachers required in Lowestoft

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified English tea...

Business Development Director - Interior Design

£80000 - £100000 per annum + competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits