Through Rosenblatt Solicitors, a successful, growing City law firm, lawyer Ian Rosenblatt spends around £400,000 a year financing the Rosenblatt Recital Series. It’s never made a penny.
Rosenblatt, whose St Andrew Street offices are adorned with opera posters, is a well-connected mover and shaker in the legal world, having represented ex-editor of The Sun Kelvin MacKenzie and colourful Express Newspapers owner Richard Desmond. He also shares a personal trainer with broker Collins Stewart’s pugnacious chairman Terry Smith.
Through the recitals, Rosenblatt employs the financial success of his firm to nourish the UK’s operatic appetite and ensure that the golden age of singing remains very much alive.
Rosenblatt got his big break as a young lawyer acting for Lorrain Osman, the former chairman of a Malaysian bank who was accused of multi-million pound fraud and earned the distinction of becoming Britain’s longest-serving remand prisoner. He then went on to found Rosenblatt Solicitors in 1989 at the grand old age of 29. The firm has assembled a global roster of clients, ranging from major public corporations and large private companies to high-net-worth individuals.
Friends in high places
Rosenblatt, also a founding shareholder and chairman of communications firm and financial PR specialist Redleaf, breezily mixes in high circles. ‘I saw Kelvin the other day,’ he remarks, adding that Collins Stewart is ‘an important client and yes, I do still share a trainer with Terry, or rather he shares one with me since I introduced them. Put it that way around.’
Opera has been a passion of Rosenblatt’s since his Liverpool childhood, when his father used to listen to Verdi’s La Traviata in the mornings.
After moving to London, Rosenblatt used to queue for opera tickets outside Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House, and years later he was asked by its former artistic director Helga Schmidt if he would be interested in sponsoring the first London concert by rising tenor José Cura. He happily said yes and Rosenblatt Solicitors sponsored the Cura concert held at the Royal Festival Hall in 1999.
It occurred to Rosenblatt that the great British public rarely gets to hear truly exceptional voices perform live, aside from productions at the top opera houses or at occasional one-off recitals. So he formulated an ambitious plan to create a series ‘where we could hear international artists at reasonably regular intervals’.
The result was the Rosenblatt Recital Series for leading and up-and-coming opera vocalists from around the globe. Seeking to promote young talented opera singers as they make their transition from the national to the international stage, the recitals are held mainly at St John’s Church in Smith Square near the Houses of Parliament, although they have also been held at the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Festival Hall.
The series has provided a stage on which to perform for the likes of Juan Diego Flórez, who was given his UK debut, and respected names such as Carlos Alvarez, Giuseppe Sabbatini, Dennis O’Neill, Joseph Calleja, Marcello Giordani and June Anderson.
‘The recitals have gained an international reputation and international artists now want to appear at a Rosenblatt recital,’ he enthuses. ‘We’ve had 70 concerts so far and we hold one a month, apart from August. We start the seventh series this month. Some of the greatest performers have had their breaks in Rosenblatt recitals, such as Flórez, who has gone on to become the world’s biggest opera star.’
Not making a bean from the series doesn’t concern Rosenblatt. Aside from satiating his passion for opera, he acknowledges that the recitals act as a useful form of corporate sponsorship.
He says: ‘Yes, the recitals lose money, but they are a great marketing tool for us. The firm sponsors them and, as well as bringing together clients and friends, the recitals are attended by a large number of our staff – not just the fee-earning partners – voluntarily. It has become an important part of what we do as a firm.’