Opera + Classical Music Features

Preview: 2015 in the Opera House – Summer Festivals

Picnics It’s in gloomy January that opera lovers start to think about those Summer places to which they ‘longen to goon on Pilgrimages’ – and this year, those idyllic spots present more difficult choices than ever, the ‘Three Gs’ – Garsington, Glyndebourne and Grange Park between them offering a wide and stimulating repertoire, with Glyndebourne alone going from Handel to Britten by way of Mozart, Bizet and Donizetti.

The Summer season kicks off in fine style on May 21st at Glyndebourne, with the first ever professionally staged UK performance of Donizetti’s Poliuto, which is sure to be a big draw even if you’re not a fan of this composer, given that the two leading roles will be sung by Ana María Martínez (who scored a sensation with her 2009 house debut in Rusalka) and Michael Fabiano, last season’s Alfredo in La traviata. This is followed by a revival of David McVicar’s acclaimed 2002 production of Carmen, with Stéphanie d’Oustrac in the title role.

Next up is a real coup for Grange Park, with its most ambitious production to date – opening on June 4th, Fiddler on the Roof in which Bryn Terfel will sing Tevye. As regular readers will know, we tend not to hum show toons in the shower, but we’ll be there nevertheless. The very next day brings one of our absolute ‘must see’ events, a new production of Così fan tutte by Garsington Opera at the fabulous Wormsley estate. The cast is spectacular – it includes Robin Tritschler as Ferrando, Lesley Garrett as Despina, and Neal Davies as Don Alfonso. On the 6th – yes, that will be four new productions in three days – Garsington features Intermezzo with Kate Valentine and Mark Stone, and Grange Park brings us La boheme.

Not to be outdone – perish the thought – Glyndebourne’s new Die Entführung aus dem Serail is certain to be a season highlight, directed as it is by David McVicar – his first Mozart for the house – and conducted by Robin Ticciati, with a cast led by Sally Matthews and Edgaras Montvidas. First night is on June 13th. Grange Park features Saint-Saens’ Samson et Dalila on June 20th, and next day Garsington pulls out yet another plum with a new production of Britten’s Death in Venicedefinitely a must-see, conducted by Steuart Bedford and with Paul Nilon and William Dazeley among the cast.

It’s back to Glyndebourne again on July 5th for a revival of Fiona Shaw’s award-winning production of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia. This one is another ‘not to be missed’ for us, since it features Kate Royal, last season’s luminous Marschallin, in her role debut as the female chorus. Two great Britten works within just over two weeks… riches indeed.

The following week Grange Park revives its beautiful 2013 Eugene Onegin on July 10th, followed on the 16th by Garsington’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company. The latter is an abridged version of the play, and it includes Mendelssohn’s Incidental Music; under the creative guidance of Gregory Doran and conducted by Douglas Boyd, this should be appealing to both music and theatre lovers.

Late July sees Glyndebourne’s first ever staging of Handel’s glorious Saul, directed by Barrie Kosky and with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment conducted by Ivor Bolton: the first night is July 23rd. The cast is outstanding: Iestyn Davies sings the role of David, Lucy Crowe that of Merab, and Christopher Purves takes the title role. If you don’t know the work, take it from us that it’s one of the greatest in the repertoire – listen to ‘O Lord, Whose Mercies Numberless’ and see if you don’t agree.

Rounding off what promises to be a fabulous season, Glyndebourne revives its award-winning version of Ravel’s L’heure espagnole and L’enfant et les sortilèges, with the first night on August 8th. The production alone, under Robin Ticciati’s musical direction, should be enough to ensure full houses, but an added draw this time is that Danielle de Niese will sing both Concepción and the child.

Finally, a ‘new kid on the block’ – at least to us – is the short season at West Green House at Hartley Wintney in Hampshire. This idyllic house and garden is offering The Marriage of Figaro on July 25th and 26th and Ariadne auf Naxos on August 1st and 2nd, plus several other events in a spectacular setting. The ambience is said to be ‘super-stylish’ and it includes – of course – lakeside picnics, fine dining, afternoon teas and a Champagne bar. It has the same combination of English country garden, stunning auditorium and the chance to dress up for a day of picnics and opera which the other three venues offer – and since we all know that there are few things that are more fun than that, whether you are 8 or 80, it should be a welcome addition to the ‘country house opera’ circuit.

Further information on all the above can be found here:



Grange Park

West Green House

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