Grange Park Opera: Die Walküre

Grange Park Opera: Die Walküre
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Stephen Barlow
Theatre in the Woods, West Horsley Place, Surrey
29 June 2017

Grange Park Opera closed the final season of their 18 year tenure at The Grange, Hampshire with a performance of Tristan & Isolde, so it was appropriate that their opening season in their new home in the Theatre in the Woods at West Horsley Place they should include more Wagner, in the shape of Die Walküre, the second part of Wagner’s Ring cycle. The first, 1870, performance was as an isolated opera: it wasn’t performed in a Ring cycle until 1876, so viewing it on its own has a degree of authenticity. And, shorn of the complexity and stamina of being part of a complete Ring cycle, witnessing the stand-alone opera allowed us to focus on the complexities of interpersonal interaction and relationships.  Continue reading

Grange Park Opera: Jenůfa

Leoš Janáček: Jenůfa
Grange Park Opera, BBC Concert Orchestra, William Lacey
Theatre in the Woods, West Horsley Place. 11 June 2017

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Not for the first time in recent years, an opera company has planned, designed, funded and constructed a brand new opera house having been required, for various reasons, to move from the original home. In the most recent case of Grange Park Opera, the background to the move from their founding home at The Grange, Hampshire, was not without controversy, and the new opera house is not quite finished, or, indeed, fully funded. But nonetheless they managed to put on an impressive indication of what will be the new home for the next 99 years, the Theatre in the Woods, hidden away behind the massive medieval pile of West Horsley Place (pictured), rather unexpectedly inherited by former television personality and writer, Bamber Gascoigne, from his Duchess Great Aunt. Continue reading

Grange Park Opera: Tristan & Isolde

Tristan & Isolde
Grange Park Opera, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Martyn Brabbins
The Grange, Hampshire. 13 July 2016

For reasons that will become apparent, this is more than just a review of an opera.WP_20160713_15_21_12_Pro.jpgGrange Park Opera has been one of the UK’s musical successes since it first set up shop in 1998 in the derelict shell of The Grange, a country house in the centre of Hampshire. Owned by the Baring banking family, The Grange dates from the early nineteenth century when William Wilkins, architect of the British Museum, transformed an earlier 17th century brick building into Britain’s most important example of the Greek revival architecture, notable for its imposing temple-style portico. It was saved from demolition in 1975 after a public outcry and the intervention of the Government, who spot-listed the exterior shell of the building, in recognition of its important as a landscape feature. English Heritage took over custodianship of the building, although the ownership remained with the Baring family.

Over the years since 1998, Grange Park Opera have invested vast amount of (private) money into transforming The Grange, funding and building an award-winning opera house within the shell of the former orangery and Continue reading