Founder and Artistic Director of Clonter Opera Theatre

Jeffery Lockett was born into a musical family. His mother, Betty Bannerman was a mezzo-soprano, and his father, Derek Lockett was treasurer and on the court of the Worshipful Company of Musicians.  Jeffery’s parents regularly hosted fundraising concerts in a music room his father created at their home, Clonterbrook House – a former manor house in the parish of Swettenham in Cheshire. Jeffery read agriculture at St John’s College, Cambridge before carrying out National Service. He married Anita de Chair whilst still an undergraduate.   After leaving university he joined the Milk Marketing Board as an agricultural consultant and ran the family Dairy Farm at Swettenham Heath. He was High Sheriff of Cheshire from 1989 to 1990 and a member of the Countryside Landowners Association and the National Farmers Union and was Chairman of the Cheshire Committee of the former organisation from 1994/95.  In 2003 he was awarded Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Cheshire.  

After attending a cattle auction in 1974, he had been impressed by the theatrical aspect of the arena and it inspired him and Anita to hold a charity concert in one of the barns. He invited the Abbey Opera Group to bring an evening of operatic excerpts to his farm in Cheshire. A barn full of straw bales was converted for the night into an auditorium and the proceeds went to Cancer Relief. Since then Clonter Opera has expanded to become a 400 fixed seated auditorium with orchestra pit and undercover dining facilities for 400 people. Jeffery project managed every part of the expansion and was actively involved with all the building work.  Anita created the costumes for many of the early concerts and later productions and is still involved with many aspects of production management.  Clonter Farm Music Trust was founded in 1991 and has seven Trustees who generously donate much time and sound advice.   Jeffery and Anita’s three daughters are all involved in the Trust’s work. Isabella Roberts and Amanda Harman are Joint Chief Executives and Sarah Farmer is Chairman of the London Tour committee and a Trustee.  

As part of Clonter Opera Theatre, the Clonter Farm Music Trust is committed to providing the highest quality training and performance opportunities for young singers. Summer productions are regularly taken on tour to London in the Autumn with performances at the Britten Theatre at the Royal College of Music (recent building works at RCM have prevented this and showcase concerts are currently taking place in alternative venues). Clonter’s Opera Prize is awarded each year to the winner of an inter-conservatoire opera prize competition which takes place in February each year at Clonter Opera Theatre. Singers are nominated by the heads of opera at the principal music colleges in the UK.

Clonter Farm Music Trust’s mission is to ‘bridge the gap’ between conservatoire and professional work, but there is also further outreach work with over 2000 children and teachers from 30 different schools each year.

Jeffery became a Fellow of the Royal Northern College of Music in 1990; Master of the Musicians’ Company from 1990 to 1991; he was made Member of the British Empire for Services to Music in 2003 and received an MEN Theatre Award in 2006.

2012 He received a Doctor of Music from the University of Chester in recognition of his outstanding contribution to opera.

”Jeffery Lockett has done more for Opera in Britain than many better known names: an indefatigable and conscientious auditioner, he has started many a singer’s career and Clonter remains the place to see tomorrow’s top talent make its first appearance”

Robert Thicknesse, Opera Now 2011