Welcome to DURHAM DALES FESTIVAL, which has evolved from The Durham Dales Festival of Performing Arts.


2017 would have been the third year of DDFOPA, but it is now encompassing every aspect of creativity: not just performing arts, but painting, baking, tapestry...any and every talent.


We would love you to be part of it, and to help us to fill the pages of this website.

About Us

Ex-opera singer (Lucia di Lammermoor/Rosina/

Susanna, etc.), Lorna is now more of a baritone than a coloratura soprano! She still enjoys the occasional musical role, including Mrs. Lovett in SWEENEY TODD and the Witch in INTO THE WOODS - well, there is no point having your own company and not giving yourself the best parts!  She also teaches singing, piano and music theory, is Director of Music at Park Hill School, Kingston upon Thames and runs baby/toddler music sessions in Kingston upon Thames and the Durham Dales.   


Lorna and her family spend a great deal of time in County Durham, and she and the company are thrilled to be performing in such amazing venues.





Soprano - Fiordiligi/Dido


                                           Sarah's appearance as Fiordiligi in last year's Cosi fan Tutte at

                                            The Bowes Museum  in  Barnard Castle,  The Actors' Church

                                            in  Covent Garden  and the  Royal Pavilion in Brighton was a

                                             big success,  and we were delighted to welcome her back this

                                             year to sing one of the title roles in Dido and Aeneas.


Sarah is a London-based soprano, who until recently was training with English National Opera as part of their Opera Works program. She graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in 2013 with an MA (distinction) in Vocal Studies and was awarded the DipRAM for her final recital.  She studied at the Academy with Audrey Hyland and Sarah Walker.  Until September 2013, Sarah was performing as a mezzo-soprano.  She is currently studying with Elizabeth Ritchie.

Sarah made her stage debut aged eight in a Royal Opera Company production of Verdi's Otello, closely followed by their 2000 production of Puccini's La Boheme, and an appearance as a treble soloist on an EMI recording of Massenet's Werther with Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna .  Sarah graduated from Durham University with an honours degree in 2010. Whilst at the university she became President of Durham Opera Ensemble, with whom she performed regularly, for the year 2009/10, and was named by The Palatinate newspaper as one of 25 Durham graduates to watch for the future. 

Sarah regularly performs on both the opera and concert stage, most recently performing the title role in Puccini's Manon Lescaut. Other credits include Fiordiligi Cosi fan Tutte, Alice Ford The Merry Wives of Windsor,  Tatyana Eugene Onegin, Mother Hansel and Gretel, Florence Albert Herring, Prince Orlofsky Die Fledermaus and Third Lady The Magic Flute. She also appeared as the Baker's Wife in a full run of Sondheim's Into the Woods at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2011.  She has also performed in several opera premieres, including Evan Kassof's opera Memoirs of Transformation in the roles of Brunnhilde/Madame Butterfly and LiveArtShow's recent production of Marsha: A girl who does bad things in the role of Johnny. Sarah is a founding member of the Dunelm Quintet and other concert performances include Handel's Messiah, Vivaldi Gloria, McDowall's Magnificat, Haydn's Stabat Mater and Bach's Christmas Oratorio. She also  performed Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire as part of the centenary celebrations at the Royal Academy of Music, alongside Jane Manning.  Sarah has participated in masterclasses with  Angelika Kirchschlager, Ann Howells, Lore Lixenberg and Sir Thomas Allen. 

Sarah recently travelled to Weimar, Germany to perform the role of Erste Dame in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte - an experience she thoroughly enjoyed.

Adele in

Mezzo soprano Vivien Conacher hails from Sydney, Australia and has been based in London since 2010. Described as a "rising star" by Limelight Magazine, her stage roles have included Rivka Fiddler on the Roof alongside Bryn Terfel (Grange Park Opera and BBC Proms), Sorceress Dido and Aenaes (Durham Dales Festival), Penelope (cover) Il Ritorno di Ulisse in Patria (Iford Arts Festival),  Filippyevna Eugene Onegin (Bloomsbury Opera, and cover for Grange Park Opera), and Hortense Koanga by Delius (Wexford Festival Opera, Ireland). She has also performed in Opera Australia‘s award-winning chorus, in both the 2015 and 2016 summer seasons.


Vivien graduated with Distinction from the Masters programme at the Royal College of Music, before completing the "Opera Works" training scheme run by English National Opera. She is also an alumnus of the Oxford Lieder Festival Mastercourse with Roger Vignoles (2013), British Youth Opera (2013), and the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme (2014 & 2016).


On the concert platform, Vivien has performed as a soloist for the Iford Arts Festival, Bloomsbury Festival, St-Martin-in-the-Fields lunchtime recital series, and The Joan Sutherland & Richard Bonynge Foundation in Sydney. She is a current Concordia Foundation Artist, Tait Memorial Trust Awardee, and was recently a finalist in London Song Festival’s 2016 British Song Prize. Vivien also runs a dementia-friendly recital series called Songhaven with events planned throughout 2017.