Comedian Jennifer Saunders to host opera series on Classic FM

Classic FM has partnered with the English National Opera to air a new series hosted by Jennifer Saunders.

From Couch to Opera House (in 7 weeks) launches on Sunday 6th March at 9pm and is the latest in a series of specially commissioned programming to celebrate Classic FM’s 30th year.

Jennifer presents the series on Classic FM following her opera challenge in 2021. Teaming up with the English National Opera last March, she was one of five comedians to learn the aria Nessun Dorma in just 24 hours and perform it live on television for charity.

Across seven programmes, the aim of the series is to demystify the genre to novice opera-goers – taking listeners by the hand from the moment they enter through the virtual opera house doors, through the foyer to finally settling in the Grand Circle for the anticipated performance.

Each hour-long programme will focus on a different theme, ranging from love (satisfied and unrequited), conflict and turmoil to comedy. With each, there will be a relevant and rich accompaniment of opera music spanning five centuries – from Claudio Monteverdi (early 17th century) to Stephen Sondheim (20th century).

Jennifer Saunders said: “After dipping my toe into the world of opera last year for a wonderful charitable cause and the English National Opera, I’m thrilled to present this new series on Classic FM without having to actually sing.”

Philip Noyce, Classic FM’s Managing Editor, said: “It’s very exciting to be teaming up with Jennifer Saunders and the English National Opera for our new series From Couch to Opera House (in 7 weeks) in our special 30th anniversary year. One of our central aims at Classic FM is to make classical music available and accessible to everyone, so I’m thrilled that we’re working with someone of Jennifer’s calibre to help us challenge any preconceptions about what opera is and who can enjoy it. Our series will inform, it will entertain, and it will pack an emotional punch – just like a night at the opera, in fact!”