Since the move to West Horsley Place in 2017, Grange Park Opera has re-established itself as one of the essential destinations for audiences who love the concept of spending time in a glorious garden setting coupled with first-class performances. This year’s Summer offerings really do have ‘something for everyone,’ from La Gioconda to a new opera by Anthony Bolton: public booking opens on March 2nd.
Grange Park is well known for its reinvigoration of musicals, and this season begins with Meet Me in St Louis, directed by Jo Davies with set designs by Francis O’Connor. The BBC Concert Orchestra will be conducted by John Rigby.
Next up is Ponchielli’s best-known work, a huge hit when first seen at La Scala, but last performed in the UK in 2008. Set in Venice during Carnivale, La Gioconda is a tale of love, politics and tragedy, and it should make for a stunning evening with the superb cast of Amanda Echalaz in the title role, Joseph Calleja as Enzo and Ruxandra Dunose as Laura. None of these will require any introduction to Grange Park Opera’s regular audiences; very few will be likely to forget Calleja’s Cavaradossi in the 2017 Tosca, or Ruxandra Dunose’s Eboli in the 2019 Don Carlos.
The third production in this season is La Bohème, with another starry cast in the form of Ailish Tynan’s role debut as Mimi, and Cody Austin’s house debut as Rodolfo. Stephen Barlow conducts the English National Opera Orchestra.
The final opera is sure to be one of this season’s most discussed events: The Life and Death of Alexander Litvinenko is a new work by Anthony Bolton, with a libretto by Kit Hesketh-Harvey. The real-life story of the former officer who became one of Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critics, and who was poisoned in London in 2006, is told in a series of scenes covering events in Russia which led to Litvinenko seeking exile, and his family life in London. Stephen Barlow conducts, and the parts of Alexander and Marina Litvinenko are taken by Adrian Dwyer and Rebecca Bottone.
For a ‘final fling,’ Grange Park Opera offers Ballet in the Woods, a dance celebration by the Royal Ballet, to include a selection of works from the dance repertoire, embracing both the well known and the unexpected.
Grange Park Opera has just recruited Wynne Evans to its board of trustees; if the name sounds familiar you’ll have seen him on TV as the spoof opera star ‘Gio Compario,’ but he is in fact a real opera singer with a very distinguished set of roles to his credit. He says that he is ‘beyond excited’ to join the team at Grange Park Opera, “…where I’ve enjoyed some of the most atmospheric performances of my career.” With this varied programme in such an idyllic setting, West Horsley Place is all set for yet another atmospheric season.