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Christopher Webber

Keynote speaker

Christopher Webber was born in Bowdon, Cheshire, and attended The Manchester Grammar
School and the University of Kent, where his postgraduate M.A. explored politico-dramatic
procedures in Dryden and Purcell’s King Arthur. Starting his professional career as a theatre
director with many companies including Orpheus Opera (of which he was Artistic Director
1980–87), Kent Opera, and the new D’Oyly Carte Opera Company in Britain and the USA,
he soon broadened his portfolio to include musical journalism for Music and Musicians, and
as classical music editor for Richard Branson’s Event magazine.

He is an authority on zarzuela, whose book The Zarzuela Companion (Rowman & Littlefield
2002, foreword by Plácido Domingo) is a standard English work on the subject. Since 1997
he has been editor-in-chief of He contributed the zarzuela chapter to The
Cambridge Companion to Operetta (Cambridge University Press 2019); wrote or revised the
Hispanic entries for The Oxford Companion to Music; has lectured on Spanish lyric theatre at
universities including Tübingen, Sheffield, Oviedo and Valencia; and has contributed nearly
400 articles and reviews to Opera, plus programme notes for the Royal Opera, New York
Philharmonic and many festivals including Wexford and Edinburgh. For Oxford University
Press Bibliographies, he assembled and curates the material on zarzuela (2016); and for
Cambridge University Press he was appointed editor (2022, with Enrique Mejías García) of
the forthcoming Cambridge History of Spanish Opera and Music Theatre.

He is also a project editor and panellist for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography,
having written nearly fifty entries on leading figures from theatre, horse racing and music
including the ‘fraudster pianist’ Joyce Hatto, featuring in Channel 4 and BBC Radio
documentaries about her life and work.

As a writer, his early work included the best-selling Bluff Your Way at the Races (Ravette) as
well as many opera translations. His plays include an adaptation of Sophocles’ Philoctetes
(Offstage Downstairs); Tatyana (Nottingham Playhouse); Dr Sullivan and Mr Gilbert (Mull
Theatre, revived at Glasgow Citizens); and Green Tea after Sheridan Le Fanu, shortlisted for
a Guinness Prize. Concurrently, he acted in London’s West End and repertory theatre
throughout Britain and Europe, creating the role of Owl in the first stage version of Winnie-
the-Pooh (Royalty Theatre and national tour) and playing leading roles in world and/or
international premieres of plays by Alan Ayckbourn (Scarborough, Chichester) and Alan
Bennett (Berlin).

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