A COTSWOLDS couple are to to receive the prestigious

Wagner Society award for services to music, after almost three decades of being devoted to opera.

It is some 28 years since Martin and Lizzie Graham had the inspired idea of promoting opera in the grounds of their home at Longborough, near Stow-on-the-Wold, originally as Banks Fee Opera.

This turned into the Longborough Festival Opera, and afficionados say the Grahams have performed almost the impossible over the years, including in 2013, when they presented a full-length production of Wagner's Ring Cycle "with minimal budgets but to great critical acclaim".

And the next big challenge is to do this again, because they are as enthusiastic as ever about opera, and it's still very much a family passion.

A spokesman said: "They are still very much involved in the day-to-day running of the Festival, which now takes places in a purpose-built Opera House. Martin and Lizzie's daughter, the acclaimed opera director Polly Graham, was appointed as artistic director in 2018."

The Wagner Society has announced that Martin and Lizzie Graham will receive its prestigious Reginald Goodall Award, "which recognises individuals who have been of outstanding service to Wagner and his music".

Hearing news of the award, Mrs Graham said: “Martin and I are delighted to receive this award on behalf of the whole team at Longborough who work so hard to make Wagner successful here, and are currently helping to put our new Ring cycle in place.”

The upcoming cycle will see Longborough stage brand new productions of Das Rheingold (June 2019); Die Walküre (June 2020); Siegfried (June 2021) and Götterdämmerung (June 2022); culminating in the full cycle of Der Ring des Nibelungen (June 2023).

The entire cycle will be conducted by Longborough Music Director and eminent Wagnerian Anthony Negus, and brought to life by Royal Opera House Head Staff Director Amy Lane.