creative team

Second Movement’s Artistic Directors are Nicholas Chalmers, Simon Lima Holdsworth and Oliver Mears. Abigail Toland is the company’s producer.


Abigail, a co-founder of Second Movement, is the company’s producer and a trustee. She has a particular interest in contemporary opera and created and produces rough for opera, Second Movement’s groundbreaking platform for new opera which has supported new work by more than 50 composers since its first edition in 2011. In 2020 was co-producer of 12:42, a documentary film exploring creative processes, isolation and digital connections (National Opera Studio). Current work includes Your Story, Your Voice, Your Stage, a co-creative project in partnership with the charity Tourettes Action, working online with a group of 16 adults with Tourette Syndrome to create a new digital opera. She is co-producer with Oedipa of Speak Red, a new opera in development from composer Santa Buss and librettist Finn Beames about Ruby McDonough, an American woman who had aphasia. The opera is being created with a group of adults with aphasia who performed excerpts at Rough for Opera May 2019. She was production partner for 12:40, a landmark project from the National Opera Studio and Second Movement, working with 40 creative artists to create twelve brand new operatic arias, performed together at London’s Hoxton Hall in June 2018. In 2012 Abigail was creative producer and commissioner of Zátopek! a new opera about Czech Olympian Emil Zátopek by composer Emily Howard and librettist Selma Dimitrijevic. Zátopek! was performed in Liverpool and at London’s Southbank Centre, in partnership with Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and part of PRS for Music Foundation’s New Music 20×12, supported by Jerwood Charitable Foundation. From 2015-2021 Abigail served on the board of the Opera and Music Theatre Forum. Abigail is Chair of the Board of Trustees of OperaUpClose.

Abigail is Second Movement’s main point of contact.


Nicholas conducts productions for Northern Ireland Opera, is the Artistic Director of Nevill Holt and Artistic Director of Second Movement. He studied music at Oxford University and conducting at the Piacenza Conservatoire.

From 2003 to 2008 Nicholas worked at Westminster Abbey as Assistant Organist and Director of Music of the Choir School. From 2008 until 2011 Nicholas was Assistant Chorus Master of English National Opera. With ENO he prepared 24 operas for conductors including Edward Gardner, Mark Wigglesworth, Sir Charles Mackerras, Baldur Bronniman and Sir Richard Armstrong.

Conducting engagements with Northern Ireland Opera include The Medium (Feb 2011) Tosca (Best Opera – Irish Times Theatre Awards – April 2011) Turn of the Screw (March 2012 and Buxton Festival July 2012), Noye’s Fludde (Belfast Zoo August 2012 and Beijing October 2011) The Flying Dutchman (Ulster Orchestra – Feb 2013) The Bear (March 2013) Noye’s Fludde (Shanghai and Cape Town – July and Dec 2013) Macbeth (Jan 2014), Magic Flute (September 2014) and Salome (Feb 2015). For Nevill Holt Opera he has conducted The Magic Flute (June 2013) La Boheme (June 2014) Carmen and The Turn of the Screw (June 2015), Rigoletto and The Elixir of Love (June 2016) and Tosca and Noye’s Fludde (June 2017).

Nicholas was nominated for Best Opera Production for Turn of the Screw (Irish Times Theatre Awards – February 2013) and Achievement in Opera for The Flying Dutchman (UK Theatre Awards October 2013).

SIMON LIMA HOLDSWORTH set and costume designer

Simon studied Theatre Design in London and Maastricht. Born in London, he now lives and works in Berlin.

In the UK Simon has previously designed: Rigoletto, Carmen, La Bohéme and The Magic Flute (Nevill Holt Opera); The Flying Dutchman and Tosca, (Northern Ireland Opera); Orpheus in the Underworld (Scottish Opera/Northern Ireland Opera); Britain’s got Bhangra (Theatre Royal Stratford East); Orlando (Opera Theater Company/Buxton Festival); Hansel and Gretel (Opera North/Northern Ireland Opera); Bluebeard (Buxton Festival). Short opera designs include Noye’s Fludde, (Northern Ireland Opera/KT Wong Foundation/Beijing Music Festival/Shanghai Spring International Music Festival); The Bear (Nederlandse Reisopera/Northern Ireland Opera) Trouble in Tahiti, Fade, A Hand of Bridge, The Two Blind Men, Rothschild’s Violin, The Knife’s Tears, The Impresario and The Medium (Second Movement).

Designs for opera in Germany include: L’Elisir d’Amore and Hänsel und Gretel (Theater Augsburg); Der Wildschütz and Gianni Schicchi/La Notte di un Nevrastenico (Theater Magdeburg); Alcina (Staatstheater Cottbus); Benvenuto Cellini (Theater Münster). Other productions include: Ariadne auf Naxos (Theater St. Gallen, Switzerland); Die Fledermaus and The Merry Widow (Hyogo Performing Arts Centre, Japan); Don Giovanni (Ekaterinburg State Opera, Russia); Der Freischütz (Salzburger Landestheater, Austria). Designs for theatre include Screwmachine (Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh); Richard II (Ludlow Spring Festival/Almagro Festival, Spain); Messiah (Old Vic, West End); The Secret Love Life of Ophelia, (King’s Head Theatre/Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh/Elsinore Castle, Denmark); Ritual in Blood (Nottingham Playhouse); Dracula (Derby Playhouse); ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore (Southwark Playhouse).


As Artistic Director of Second Movement Oliver directed many opera productions in London, including works by Fleischmann/Shostakovich, Martinů and Weisman. He has also directed a prison project, Sweeney Todd (Pimlico Opera) La Calisto (Early Opera Company) Hansel and Gretel (Opera North) the National Opera Studio Showcase 2010, The Bear (National Reisopera, Holland), Albert Herring (Aldeburgh)David Almond/Pet Shop Boys’ My Dad’s a Birdman (Young Vic) The Magic Flute (Nevill Holt Opera) and Don Giovanni (Bergen National Opera). For Northern Ireland Opera Tosca (Irish Times Theatre Award fro Best Opera Production 2012) Hansel and Gretel, L’Elisir d’Amore, Noye’s Fludde (Belfast Zoo/Beijing Music Festival/Shanghai Music in the Summer Festival) The Flying Dutchman (nominated for UK TMA Award Achievement in Opera) Orpheus in the Underworld (co-production Scottish Opera/Young Vic) L’Elisir d’Amore (OTC) Salome and Macbeth (co-production Welsh National Opera). His production of Turn of the Screw was nominated for two Irish Times Theatre Awards in 2013 (Best Opera Production and Best Director). In 2012 he was nominated for an Achievement in Opera award by the UK TMA Awards for his leadership of NI Opera and was nominated in the Best Newcomer category at the 2013 Opera Awards. His recent production of Agrippina won Best Production at the Dublin Theatre Fringe Festival Awards.

Oliver joined the Royal Opera House as Director of Opera in early March 2017, succeeding Kasper Holten.