Opera + Classical Music Features

Preview – Summer festival operas 2024

Yes, it’s those four Gs again: Garsington, Glyndebourne, Grange Festival and Grange Park bring exceptional seasons.


Glyndebourne, Garsington Opera, The Grange Festival & Grange Park Opera (Photos: Marc Eskenazi)

Between March and April
When the spray begins to spring,
The little bird fulfils her will
With her voice to sing.

The lambs are in the field, the magnolias are bustin’ out all over – so naturally opera lovers’ thoughts turn to this season’s Summer Festivals, with public booking about to open for Garsington – under 35s from 26 March, those not so fortunate from 2 April. Booking is open for the other three, with a decent number of seats remaining for many performances.

Garsington Opera at Wormsley is offering its most exciting season yet, opening with the welcome rarity of Rameau’s Platée on 29 May. It’s directed by Louisa Muller, whose 2019 The Turn of the Screw was described by The Guardian as “A truly great achievement, devastating and unforgettable”. Our recent interview with Louisa gave an insight into her thinking about the production – it’s one to anticipate, and stars Robert Murray, Jonathan McGovern and Samuel Boden.

Keeping with the comedy but in a totally different style, the next opera in the season will be Le nozze di Figaro in the legendary John Cox production, revived by Bruno Ravella, who has scored huge hits with Der Rosenkavalier and Intermezzo. First night is 30 May,and the cast is full of Garsington favourites including Claire Lees, Paul Nilon, Neal Davies and Susan Bickley.

Next up is a real treat in the shape of a co-production with Santa Fe Opera of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As well as being starrily cast – the principals include Iestyn Davies and Lucy Crowe – members of the Youth Company will form part of the chorus, and The Philharmonia Orchestra will be conducted by Douglas Boyd. First night is 16 June.

Garsington will also present Verdi’s Un giorno di regno, a casualty of the cancelled 2020 season, with another starry cast including Joshua Hopkins, Christine Rice and Madison Leonard. Conducted by Tobias Ringborg, first night is 29 June. Rounding out the season will be Andrew Norman’s A Trip to the Moon, a family friendly opera in which the cast features not only well known professionals but inter-generational performers from the community. There are two performances, on 30 and 31 July.


On to the original Summer Festival, Glyndebourne presents an exceptionally varied season this year, with something for everyone, from the sublime to the sparkling. Carmen kicks off the season, in a new production by the award-winning Broadway director Diane Paulus. First night is 16 May, but you might want to wait until August to catch Aigul Akhmetshina in the title part – those who saw the Royal Opera’s Werther last year are sure to recall her Sophie.

A revival of the Barbe / Doucet Die Zauberflöte follows, with dates from 18 May, and then a departure for Glyndebourne with Lehár’s The Merry Widow, directed by Cal McCrystal and with a cast including Danielle de Niese and Thomas Allen. We are promised a “laugh out loud classic” with “all the opulence of …Hollywood”.

Two contrasting revivals follow – the much liked (by some) Bollywood-style Giulio Cesare, with first night on 23 June and starring Louise Alder as Cleopatra and Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen as Caesar. Those who have been impressed with the mezzo-soprano Beth Taylor might be drawn to this one, since she will be singing Cornelia.

Finally, Nikolaus Lehnhoff’s dream-like production of Tristan und Isolde returns, enticingly cast with Stuart Skelton as Tristan and Shenyang as Kurwenal. It’s conducted by Robin Ticciati, with the first night on 29 July.


Not to be outdone in ambition, The Grange Festival begins its season with Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea with the first night on 7 June. Anna Bonitatibus, the superb Agrippina here in 2018, takes on the role of Ottavia, with Kitty Whately as Poppea and Christopher Lowrey as Ottone. The production team is the same as the one which caused such a stir with Agrippina, so an evening to remember is guaranteed.

The Grange is also offering a new production of Puccini’s Tosca, by the same team responsible for the superb Falstaff in 2019, with the first night on 8 June. A final new production will be Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, created by the designer / director Antony McDonald, and starring a fine young cast – first night is 23 June.


Finally, the last of the Gs is Grange Park Opera, which offers an engaging season in bucolic garden surroundings, centred on the beautiful new house which keeps evolving each year. The season begins with a rare treat, a Bryn Terfel double bill in which he sings the title roles in Rachmaninov’s Aleko and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi: you could hardly ask for more greatly contrasting roles than Pushkin’s tortured hero as imagined by Rachmaninov, and the endearing but conniving Gianni Schicchi. Definitely one to look forward to, first night is 6 June.

From a virtuoso baritone to an opera with stratospheric high tenor and soprano notes, Donizetti’s Daughter of the Regiment will be sung in English by an outstanding cast including Julia Sitkovetsky, famed for her high notes in roles such as the Queen of the Night, as Marie. Nico Darmanin, who sings Tonio, should have no trouble with that string of high Cs. First night is 8 June.

For Grange Park’s final opera of the season, Janáček’s Katya Kabanova has been chosen, in a production by David Alden and starring Natalya Romaniw as Katya – regulars at this house will recall her searing Jenůfa in 2017. Those fortunate enough to have seen that production will also remember Susan Bullock’s shattering portrayal of Kostelnička: for this Katya she will sing the similar role of Kabanicha. First night is 16 June, with just five performances.

Booking details and further information can be found here:
Garsington OperaGlyndebourneThe Grange Festival – Grange Park Opera

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