The Grange Festival’s Artistic Director Michael Chance, today announced two new performances – Verdi’s Requiem and a ‘Celebration of the Music of Rodgers and Hammerstein and Rodgers & Hart with The John Wilson Orchestra’ – for the first season of the UK’s newest country-house opera festival in June and July 2017.
These events are in addition to the three new opera productions – Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, Bizet’s Carmen and Britten’s Albert Herring – already announced.
Verdi’s Requiem – with the full force of Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Chorus – is conducted by Italian conductor Francesco Cilluffo. The strong line-up of soloists including Royal Opera Jette Parker Young Artist Vlado Borovka, Cardiff Singer of the World prize winner Patricia Bardon, rising Italian-American tenor Leonardo Capalbo, who returns as Don José in Carmen later in the season, and renowned British bass Alastair Miles.
Also announced today is a Celebration of the Music of Rodgers & Hammerstein and Rodgers & Hart with The John Wilson Orchestra conducted by John Wilson himself. In their debut at The Grange, John Wilson and his Orchestra are joined by a host of guest soloists for an entertaining evening of songs from hit musicals including Oklahma!, Carousel, The Sound of Music, South Pacific and The Lady is a Tramp.
The season opens with Monteverdi’s masterpiece Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, in the 450th anniversary year of the composer’s birth. The Grange Festival’s Artistic Director, Michael Chance, eminent British stage director Tim Supple and designer Sumnant Jayakrishnan join forces to create a visually arresting production, without conductor and with a world-class team of period-instrument players, which fully utilises the intimacy of The Grange Theatre and aims to capture the radical freshness which audiences at the premiere of this revolutionary work may have experienced nearly four hundred years ago.
The last time Supple and Jayakrishnan worked together, in 2006, they created the now famous production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream which has become known as The Indian Dream, and completed two tours of India, extensive tours of the UK, Australia and North America, two seasons at Straford-upon-Avon, and a season at the Roundhouse in London. The Guardian hailed it as “the most life-enhancing production of Shakespeare’s play since Peter Brook’s.”
With British lyric tenor Paul Nilon as Ulisse, star Italian mezzo Anna Bonitatibus as Penelope, and a starry cast which includes Robin Blaze, Fiona Kimm, Ronald Samm and Paul Whelan, this new production promises to put down a firm marker for the artistic quality and depth of The Grange Festival.
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra returns with a brand-new production of Bizet’s Carmen, conducted by the French conductor Jean-Luc Tingaud. Considered one of the foremost champions of French opera, Tingaud was Associate Conductor of Opéra Comique, Paris, and is known to UK and Irish audiences from his regular appearances at Wexford Festival, English National Opera and with many of our finest orchestras.
The Grange Festival’s Carmen reunites director Annabel Arden and designer Joanna Parker, widely praised for their extraordinary work together on such productions as Opera North’s Andrea Chénier, Royal Opera House’s Café Kafka, and Glyndebourne’s Il barbiere di Sivigli, along with multi-Olivier Award-winning lighting designer Peter Mumford and leading British video and projection designer Dick Straker.
Carmen is sung by leading Israeli mezzo-soprano Na’ama Goldman, who understudied the role at Glyndebourne last season and was acclaimed by British critics for her seductive playing of Salomé, in a rare outing for Mariotte’s one-act version at Wexford in 2013. Leonardo Capalbo follows his appearance in Verdi’s Requiem in the role of Don José, enabling audiences to sample again his rich, lyric voice and the dramatic intensity for which he is becoming known. He has just sung Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann to great acclaim at Covent Garden. Escamillo is played by British-based New Zealand baritone Phillip Rhodes, a mentee of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, while soprano Shelley Jackson plays Micaëla, a role she recently made her own at Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Italy in the Calixto Bieito production.
Exactly 70 years on from its first performances at Glyndebourne, Britten’s Albert Herring (described by Sviatoslav Richter, no less, as “the greatest comic opera of the century”) completes the inaugural season. Michael Chance is bringing together the perfect Britten team of conductor Steuart Bedford, chosen by Britten to replace him when he became too ill to conduct the world premiere of Death in Venice, and director John Copley, who also knew Britten, and whose distinguished career has made him one of the most beloved figures in the opera world.
Susan Gritton as Lady Billows (debuting in the role) leads an exciting young British cast in this production. Richard Pinkstone, already praised for his stagecraft and estimable vocal attributes by critics who have heard him in key roles in recent Royal College of Music productions, takes the title role Albert, with Kathleen Ferrier Award-winning mezzo-soprano and BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist Kitty Whately as Nancy. Multi-award-winning soprano and baritone Ruth Jenkins Róbertsson and Timothy Nelson take the roles of Miss Wordsworth and Sid, while the versatile and engaging Clarissa Meek is Florence Pike.
The all-British line up for this new production of Albert Herring is completed by a formidable artistic team including set designer Tim Reed, Bafta Award-winner costume designer Prue Handley and leading lighting designer Kevin Treacy, while Aurora Orchestra makes a welcome debut at The Grange.
Michael Chance, Artistic Director of The Grange Festival, said:
“The variety on offer is wide, and the quality of performers and directors we have managed to secure humbling. I am personally delighted that so many of my deeply-valued world-class colleagues have chosen to spend the summer with us at The Grange. The determination and resilience of many loyal and skilful friends have ensured a first Festival of real substance and allure, and I look forward to welcoming audiences to the many treats we have in store at our treasured opera house.”
Audiences will not only have the opportunity to enjoy the rich and varied high-quality concerts and productions, but a much enriched experience, with a completely refurbished theatre and the stunning grounds restored to their eighteenth-century Arcadian glory.