Thursday 31 March 2016

Onward and upward: The Grange Festival announces its first season

Michael Chance at The Grange, Credit Jason Allen Hampshire Life
Michael Chance at The Grange
Credit Jason Allen Hampshire Life
Michael Chance is the artistic director of the new Grange Festival which takes over the opera house at Northington Grange after Wasfi Kani and Grange Park Opera leave at the end of this season. As such, Chance has the unenviable task of putting together a 2017 season for a new company which will balance the books, make all the existing punters feel they want to come back, as well as attracting new ones.

The Grange Festival has just announced the plans for the 2017 season and interesting they are too, with a canny choice of operas. Two small scale ones, a popular standard and enticing concert performances which give hints of what might be to come.

Chance puts himself in the spotlit, acting as music director for Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria, in the 450th anniversary of the composer’s birth, and the opera is directed by British theatre director Tim Supple. Another anniversary is celebrated, with performances of Britten's Albert Herring 70 years after its debut at Glyndebourne. Both conductor Steuart Bedford and director John Copley knew Britten, so we can expect a combination of freshness and a certain sort of authenticity. The finally in the trio of operas is Bizet's Carmen, a work which is too often blown up, but responds well to smaller scale performance (the theatre at the Opera Comique isn't that big). Annabel Arden directs, with designs by Joanna Parker, and the work will be conducted by Jean-Luc Tingaud.

As an extra treat there are two concert performances of Mozart's Cosi fan tutte from Teodor Currentzis and his Musica Aeterna, the company based in Perm (in the Urals) where the recent studio recordings of the Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy on Sony came from.

Of course much will depend on the casting, and any new artistic director of an enterprise like the Grange Festival will be looked upon to open their address book and persuade friends to participate. Let us hope that Michael Chance has more treats in store, but his first season looks set for some delights.


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