Garsington Opera at Wormsley presents its 26th season with three new productions – Richard Strauss’s Intermezzo, Benjamin Britten’s Death in Venice and Mozart’s Così fan tutte.
Intermezzo is a thinly disguised portrait of Strauss’s own marriage, a relationship which baffled many who knew him and his volatile wife. Depicted in the opera as Robert Storch, sung by Mark Stone and Christine, sung by Kate Valentine, both making their role debuts, the couple’s marital discord produces moments of high comedy, always undercut by a genuine pathos. Despite frequent arguments and misunderstandings, Strauss and Pauline loved one another deeply and this love is vividly and touchingly rendered in this opera.
Death in Venice, based on the novella by Thomas Mann, is considered one of the most important operas of the 20th century, conducted at its 1973 world premiere by Steuart Bedford who now, four decades later, will conduct the first ever performances at Garsington Opera. Paul Nilon, one of Britain’s leading tenors who performed and recorded Paolo Erisso in Rossini’s Maometto secondo, sings the role of Gustav von Aschenbach, who travels to Venice hoping to find creative inspiration. He becomes obsessed with a young boy Tadzio. Initially detached, Aschenbach’s fascination becomes all-consuming; meanwhile a cholera epidemic rages through Venice. Britten’s score offers a rare insight into the complexity of humanity.
Così fan tutte is a bitter-sweet comedy in which people face real and painful predicaments. Two young soldiers, sung by the award-winning Irish tenor Robin Tritschler (Ferrando) and Ashley Riches (Guglielmo) a former Jette Parker Young Artist, allow themselves to be drawn into the intrigues of their cynical friend Don Alfonso, sung by Welsh bass-baritone Neal Davies, who persuades them to put the love of their fiancées to the test. Romanian soprano Andreea Soare (making her UK debut) and Kathryn Rudge make their debuts in the roles of Fiordiligi and Dorabella. They are joined by soprano Lesley Garrett singing the role of Despina. Garsington Opera Artistic Director Douglas Boyd conducts,
Garsington Opera runs from 5 June to 19 July 2015 and also includes their first ever partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company: performances of an abridged version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, enlightened by Mendelssohn’s incidental music originally commissioned by King Frederick IV of Prussia in 1842 and illuminating Shakespeare’s intertwined, triple-layered dream world where lovers, fairies and rude mechanicals confuse and pursue one another in a wood near Athens.
Visitors are invited to arrive from 3.30pm in order to enjoy the gardens and grounds of the Wormsley Estate before performances begin in the early evening. Those arriving early are able to take a short trip in a vintage bus to the 18th century walled garden. On their return they can enjoy traditional afternoon tea overlooking the cricket pitch, admire the spectacular views across the deer park and lake from the Champagne Bar, or stroll around the opera garden. Performances start in the early evening with a long dinner interval during which patrons can dine in the elegant restaurant marquee overlooking the famous cricket ground or have a picnic by the lake, in the garden or in one of the private picnic tents. Performances resume as the evening light begins to fade and end by 10.15pm.
Così fan tutte (sung in Italian) 5, 7, 13, 19, 22, 25, 28 June & 3, 6, 8, 11 July. Start time 5.40pm
Intermezzo (sung in English) 6, 8, 14, 20, 26 June & 2, 5, 7, 9 July. Start time 6pm
Death in Venice (sung in English) 21, 23, 27 June & 1, 4, 10 July. Start time 6pm
A Midsummer Night’s Dream 16, 17, 18, 19 July Start time 6.30pm. 26 July at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon. Start time 7.30pm
Garsington Opera, tickets £102 – £180. General booking opens 30 March 2015. For more information and how to book visit the website.