Grange Park Opera offers best seats in the house for free
Innovative Grange Park Opera is putting a special new season online for everyone to enjoy from the comfort of their living rooms
The Theatre in the Woods. Image: Richard Lewisohn
When the Government announced the national lockdown on 23 March, Grange Park Opera, Surrey - like all cultural venues across the world - was forced to close its doors and fall silent.
That was until its indefatigable founder & Chief Executive Officer Wasfi Kani refused to accept defeat.
Her company’s exciting summer programme of opera at the ‘Theatre in the Woods’, located in the grounds of West Horsley Place in the Surrey Hills, had to be cancelled - however, Kani has devised an entirely new season of work available solely online grangeparkopera.co.uk from today, Thursday 4 June 2020.
Eight of the 15 performances are being filmed in the empty theatre, observing respectful distance between artists and technicians.
Wasfi Kani says:“Grange Park Opera’s original 2020 programme will forever be known to me as The Lost Season. But culture is active and happening right now. Driven by this, I did not want to just share performances that people will have seen before, but to create an entirely new Found Season of brand-new works, and bring it to as many people as possible”
The Found Season consists of 15 performances which will be released over six weeks from 4 June - 12 July, featuring over 70 of the world’s leading singers and musicians – whose diaries would normally be frantic during this time. Wasfi has chosen repertoire that embraces the times we are currently experiencing. These include
· Reflection, with Roderick Williams performing Schumann’sLiederkreis op24
· Anguish represented by two unliberated women in Francis Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine and Dominick Argento’s 1981 work, Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night
· Joy from the familiar face and voice of Wynne Evans (AKA Gio Compario in the long-running advertising campaign for the Go Compare insurance website) who will give a concert from his home in Wales, which remains in lockdown
Roderick Williams. Image: Richard Lewisohn
Other events from the stage of the Theatre in the Woods include:
· Piano virtuoso Pavel Kolesnikov playing Chopin and Beethoven on a magnificent C Bechstein concert grand, supplied by Jacques Samuel pianos
· For fans of Wagner, Iain Burnside’s music theatre piece The View from the Villa illuminates the interwoven lives of four extraordinary people (the Wagners and the Wesendoncks) with the words and music they inspired. Music includes Wesendonck Lieder and extracts from Die Walküre and Tristan und Isolde
· Tamara Rojo CBE, English National Ballet’s Artistic Director, introduces a pas de deux from lead principal Erina Takahashi and first soloist James Streeter on the Grange Park Opera stage, followed by an interview set in the idyllic gardens surrounding the Theatre in the Woods
· The supremely gifted violinist and winner of the string section of BBC Young Musician of the Year, Coco Tomito, will appear alongside her fellow locked-down colleagues from the Yehudi Menuhin School
· The climax of The Found Season is Richard Strauss’ Metamorphosen, composed during the closing months of World War Two. Strauss took up his pen the day after the Vienna opera was destroyed and his music mourns the loss of culture. With 23 string players from London Symphony Orchestra, English National Opera, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Grange Park Opera’s large theatre stage offers each player 5.37 square metres of playing space, to ensure their safety and that social distancing protocols are fully met.
Wasfi Kani says: “The Found Season is dedicated to the 800 people whom we call the ‘Pandemicists’, who have saved our bacon. Their summer won’t be devoid of new performances.
“The spirit of Grange Park Opera, Surrey remains undimmed. It demands, that whatever the circumstances, we bring musical experiences, which are original, stimulating and food for the soul. Whilst all regular summer music festivals have been lost for 2020, Grange Park Opera has a 2020 Found Season – which is also an amazing opportunity for us to share this magic with everyone."
The 15 events can be accessed from Thursday 4 June at www.grangeparkopera.co.uk. They are entirely free to watch – however a donation would be hugely helpful and appreciated.